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Modular Manufacturing Processes: Status, Challenges and Opportunities


Chemical companies are constantly seeking new, high‐margin growth opportunities, the majority of which lie in high‐grade, specialty chemicals, rather than in the bulk sector. In order to realize these opportunities, manufacturers are increasingly considering decentralized, flexible production facilities: large‐scale production units are uneconomical for innovative products with a short lifespan and volatile markets. Small modular plants have low financial risks, are flexible and can respond rapidly to changes in demand. Logistics costs can be also reduced by moving production closer to customers and/or sources of raw materials. Moreover, stricter safety regulations can in many cases be more easily met using smaller distributed facilities.

Modularization of chemical production can thus have potentially significant economic and safety ben‐ efits. In this article, we review several drivers for modular production, and evaluate modular production architectures based on the value density of feedstock resources and markets for the products of a process. We also discuss the links between modularization and process intensification. We illustrate the discussion with an array of industrial examples, which we also use to motivate a summary of challenges and future directions for this area. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Authors:   Michael Baldea, Thomas F. Edgar, Bill L. Stanley, Anton A. Kiss
Journal:   AIChE Journal
Year:   2017
Pages:   n/a
DOI:   10.1002/aic.15872
Publication date:   18-Jul-2017
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