Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adam Smith

Relational Format



In industry, chemical plants should be running at optimal performance in order to maximize profit. However, this is frequently not the case. Optimization is the process of improving an existing situation, device, or, in the case of chemical engineers, a chemical process. Furthermore, there are numerous strategies to optimize a chemical process, and it is up to the engineer to decide what to change in order to make the optimization worthwhile. Last semester, I was able to show my knowledge of optimization by applying changes to an existing ethylbenzene producing plant. I simulated the base case for this plant and created a cash flow statement that included revenue, raw materials cost, utilities, and other factors to generate a net present value of -$11 million. Due to such a low net present value, I decided that drastic changes needed to be made in order to make the plant profitable. Using a sensitivity analysis to show what changes would help the most, I optimized the reactor chain section and the separation section of the plant. I will focus on the reactor chain section to show how I was able to optimize the plant in order to generate a new net present value of $22.5 million.

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