Case Study: New Product Potential

April 1, 2008
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While pilot units are commonly used by various industries, the unit installed at a Florida-based technology company to manufacture synthetic resins is likely the first of its kind.



Pilot units can be ideal for developing a new product. They represent a compromise between laboratory-type equipment, as they are less expensive yet useless for process and equipment optimization as well as semi production, and full-scale plants, which are too costly and involve technical and commercial risks at the initial stage of the product development. What’s more, a skidded, fully automatic pilot unit is easy to install and operate and does not require EPA permitting, unlike a full-scale plant.

A Florida-based technology company involved in developing and manufacturing rechargeable solid polymer batteries was concerned about protecting their intellectual property and wanted to develop special resins in their own test center. Of primary concern was the ability to produce enough resins for both their own internal use as well as research with joint-venture partners. The company wanted an engineering firm with experience in manufacturing synthetic resins to manufacture the system, as well as someone capable of designing and supplying a pilot unit that could meet their requirements. The company chose RHE-America, the North American office of RHE Haendel Engineering GmbH of Germany, which has more than 40 years of experience in designing synthetic resins and polymer emulsion manufacturing plants.

RHE America installed the unit, which is designed and adapted to manufacture synthetic resins, and includes features to handle solid and raw materials and products. It can also separate products by distillation and decantation. The unit is designed to operate under full vacuum (pressure up to 150 psig) and temperatures up to 500°F by using thermal oil as a heating medium. One special feature of the unit is the split shell reactor that allows easy cleaning if fouling occurs.

The pilot unit includes the following features.
  • A 49-gal split flanged reactor with ½ pipe coil welded around the shell, high-efficiency agitation system, and a hydraulic jack to lower half reactor for easy cleaning.
  • A packed distillation column with reflux condenser and pump.
  • A decantation tank with a liquid product handling and recycling system.
  • A raw material feeding system.
  • A vacuum pump.
  • An electric heated thermal oil unit.
  • A fully automatic control system with PLC, PC-based HMI, motor control and VFDs.
All equipment is installed on a skid with an access platform for easy operation and maintenance.

This pilot unit may be useful to several industries, including adhesives and sealants, coatings, ink, plastic manufacturing, and other specialty chemical industries.

For more information, contact RHE-America, e-mail info@rhe-america.com or visit www.rhe-america.com.

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