Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adam Smith

Second Advisor

Mike Gill

Third Advisor

David Carrol

Relational Format



A recent economic downturn led to the loss of a contract for a company that sells methanol. The company has two options to recover some of the profit lost from the contract termination. One option is to sell the excess methanol at the spot market price, and the second option is to implement a process to convert the excess methanol into dimethyl ether. This project investigated the implementation of a process to convert the methanol from the lost contract into dimethyl ether. The process was simulated in AVEVA Process Simulation to estimate the size of equipment needed. A toller provided a list of equipment available to rent, that was similar in size to the estimated equipment in the base case, for the process consisting of three reactors, three distillation columns, and eight heat exchangers. Twelve viable equipment combinations consisting of one reactor, one column, and five heat exchangers each were identified. The least costly equipment set was determined through optimization of the viable equipment combinations. The annual cost of the rental and utilities for the most profitable combination was determined to be $662,000. The profit from the dimethyl ether produced was calculated to be $6.4 million dollars when the rental and utility costs for the process were deducted. This option would earn the company an extra $1.2 million in profit compared to selling the methanol on the open market for $5.2 million. Dimethyl ether production was concluded to be the most profitable option for the company.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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