Pilot Plant Design

Posted on November 18, 2021

Trevor Hilderman headshot

Pilot plants are small-scale systems designed to process materials using the same chemistry and conditions as a full commercial process but at rates several orders of magnitude lower. (e.g. kg/h instead of thousands of tons per hour).

Because the real chemistry is used along with associated pressures, temperatures, etc. at much different physical scales and flowrates, the rules of dimensional analysis and scaling must necessarily be compromised.

These compromises often make pilot models quite poor representations of the full-scale commercial process which means that some pilot plant results cannot be directly scaled up. One typical compromise is that a very small-scale pilot may operate in a low Reynolds number laminar flow regime while a large commercial vessel may be highly turbulent.

We assist our clients in understanding the implications of these mismatches.

At the design stage, design and operating choices can make the pilot more relevant to commercial conditions.
At the scale-up stage, we often quantify the performance differences between the small-scale pilots and the large-scale commercial vessels with properly scaled laboratory physical models and/or CFD techniques.

View original post on LinkedIn