Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adam Smith

Second Advisor

David Caroll

Third Advisor

Joanna Harrelson

Relational Format



The following pages detail the optimization process of styrene from ethylbenzene in the Styrene Production Plant, Unit 500. There were two parts of the assignment, each with slightly different end goals. The goal of the first part of the assignment, was to create a process that would effectively and efficiently increase the negative Net Present Value (NPV) of the production plant. Procedures taken in this process included developing a working kinetic process simulation model and optimizing this model through unit operations and heat integration, as well as developing an accurate economic model that will be used to evaluate the proposed process and support optimization alternatives. Through optimization, the NPV for the base case increased by $375M from a starting value of ($920M). The findings determined that with further optimization of the process, the net present value of the plant has the potential to increase tremendously. The second part of the assignment focused on the optimization of an isothermal fluidized bed reactor using the same reactions and kinetics in part 1. Similar procedures and calculations were taken to simulate the process, but with the main objective function being the selectivity of styrene. Through optimization, a high selectivity was able to be obtained, however, it was determined that other aspects of the process suffer as a result. Thus, it is able to be concluded that what may be initially perceived as an “optimum value” is not always beneficial to the process.

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