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Case Studies

Reactor design decreased processing time by 33%

Issue: A major flavors and fragrance company needed to design a hydrogenation reactor to expand its production of citronellol.

Solution: Air Products hydrogenation specialists helped the company design a reactor to expand production and optimize its process. The company reported that "the reaction times are running 6 hours instead of the expected 9, and the product is already exceeding the target purity before we have even begun to optimize."

Plan developed to increase production yield
Issue: A major manufacturer of industrial antioxidants needed to scale up its bench process to achieve the same yield in its full-scale production facility.

Solution: Air Products provided an overall assessment of the customer's manufacturing process with a focus on mass transfer in the lab and production reactors, operating procedures, and other areas of the hydrogenation process. The audit led to specific recommendations on how to improve the catalyst, process chemistry and operations, the plant reactor, and impurities removal in order to produce the same yields in commercial production.

APEX Temporary Hydrogen Service helped chemical manufacturer maintain production during reformer downtime
Issue: A chemical manufacturer had a tube failure in its on-site steam methane reformer (SMR) during a period of increased market demand. The company preferred to have the repairs completed internally and chose Air Products' temporary hydrogen service as a back-up solution.

Solution: While the customer tried to resolve the problem internally, an Air Products engineer evaluated and prepared the site in case the customer would require temporary hydrogen supply. When the customer's internal repairs proved to be unsuccessful, Air Products preliminary work allowed us to come on-site quickly with temporary hydrogen supply. The customer was able to remain in production to meet its customers' needs while reformer parts were fabricated, delivered, and installed.

Aminobisamide Hydrochloride (ABA) process optimization
Issue: A major manufacturer of ABA contracted with Air Products to identify process limitations and make recommendations on how to increase overall productivity to match future growth projections.

Solution: Air Products provided an overall process assessment. Establishing the proper balance between competing rate processes is often the key to improving productivity in hydrogenation. Our engineers looked at mass transfer, heat transfer, and reaction kinetics, since each can create process limitations and opportunities for improvement. To increase reactor throughput, hydrogenation process equipment should be run at the limit of heat transfer, which is often the major constraint in a hydrogenation process. Once heat transfer limitations are addressed, mass transfer and kinetics should be matched to maximize the reactor rates and increase selectivity. The manipulation of reactor design, agitation intensity, and reagent addition methods can improve process performance without changing the fundamental starting materials. Air Products confirmed that the company's current ABA process was mass-transfer limited and recommended that a new agitator solution could be implemented with minimal changes to improve productivity.

APEX Hydrogen Service prevented refinery shutdown
Issue: A North American refinery had a fire that destroyed its catalytic reformer, which caused production to cease.

Solution: Air Products' proprietary hydrogen pumping system came to the rescue. We were able to quickly meet the customer's pressure and flow requirements, enabling the refinery to quickly resume production. Our dedicated supply chain resources enabled the customer to continuously operate in excess of 90 days while the fire-damaged catalytic reformer was rebuilt. The customer's business interruption insurance covered our temporary hydrogen services that kept the refinery running.


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