Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Adam Smith

Relational Format



A crucial step in chemical engineering design is process optimization. This paper describes the steps in the design process with special emphasis placed on process optimization and the preceding step, creation of a base case for the process. The paper also describes what is meant by financial optimization in chemical engineering and explains some of its imperfections. An example of financial optimization of a gas-phase ethylbenzene production process is given. The example provides a summary of one cycle of both topological and parametric single variable discrete optimization to find a local optimum. Net present value was used as the objective function. That example was part of the course requirement for Ch E 451: Plant Design I. The team increased the NPV of the process from -$7.7 million to $70.1 million. An example of base case creation for a liquid-phase ethylbenzene production process is also provided. The steps taken to create this base case along with the process flow diagram, stream table, equipment tables, and utility table are presented. SimSci's Pro/II and Microsoft Excel were used to aid in calculations used in the examples, and plant design heuristics were taken from Analysis, Synthesis and Design of Chemical Processes by Richard Turton.

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