Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adam Smith

Second Advisor

Michael Gill

Third Advisor

David Carroll

Relational Format



The primary purpose of the project on which I wrote this thesis was to design an optimize a once-through dimethyl ether process utilizing a software called AVEVA Process Simulation. The process was initially modeled and optimized to minimize the EAOC of the distillation column. The result of that effort was an optimized column with six stages with the feed entering the column at stage six. It had a height of 3 m, diameter of 0.44 m, and an EAOC of $65,100. This optimized solution was submitted to a Toller. The Toller provided available equipment to model the plant. From here, another optimization was conducted to find the appropriate equipment combination that would have both the lowest rent and utility cost. This solution was then further optimized by manipulating process variables such as temperature, pressure, and feed stage. The most optimal configuration was reactor B and column A. The metric used to gauge the most optimal configuration is the total annual cost which includes rent and utilities. After optimization, the estimated utility and rent cost for the entire process was approximately $642,000 per year. Of course, there are other costs to consider such as raw materials and labor, but they are not included in this price. The final recommendation is to proceed with this project considering the fixed equipment cost and economic potential of $6.8 million per year. The next steps would be complete a more thorough economic analysis and purchase the equipment from the Toller to get the process running as soon as possible to increase potential profit.



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