CHEMICAL PROCESS AND REACTORS
CONTINUOUS PILOT PLANT
Matrix provided the structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering necessary for the development of a continuous mixer/reactor and dryer for an experimental pilot plant. This was a tough mixing problem primarily due to the resulting sticky slurry, which builds up and dries like concrete from splashing and mixer outfeed. Since this project was experimental, the mixer/reactor was designed for adjustability in retention time, mixing speed, and throughput rate. Much consideration was also given to the existing batch process surrounding the pilot plant as not to relocate, modify or disrupt existing ongoing operations. The project consisted of a weigh feeder, mass flow meter, heat exchanger, mixing vessels, agitators, thermal dryer, and a mechanical extruder/dryer. The pilot plant was considered successful and resulted in an expansion using the continuous reactor.
CONTINUOUS REACTION CONVERSION PROCESS
Based on the success of the pilot plant, Matrix Engineering provided the structural, mechanical and electrical engineering necessary for installing continuous reactors in phases while removing existing batch reactors. The resulting reacted slurry is a thick, corrosive, sticky substance in which build-up on the reactor side walls was a major obstacle to engineer around. Our team worked very closely with RP on developing an acid feed system into the reactor that would accomplish continuous washing of the reactor side walls. Great care was also taken in the layout of the reactors so the reacted sticky slurry would fall through a large diameter (cleanable) chute directly into the dryer below. Included in this project was a dense phase pneumatic transporter for conveying alumina to receiving hoppers above the new reactors. The continuous reactors were installed and batch reactors removed so not to interfere with production of a sold-out product. Continuous reactor redundancy was installed in the initial phase to gain experience and determine reliability of the new process before fully committing to the new process. As confidence was gained in the new process the existing batch reactors were replaced with the new continuous design. This was an engineering challenge due to spatial constraints and design flexibility to utilize batch and continuous systems simultaneously. Eventually all of the batch reactors were replaced and they now operate solely on the continuous reaction process. Matrix Engineering has continued to improve on the original reactor design to the current 3rd generation continuous reactor.
HYPO CONTINUOUS REACTORS
Matrix Engineering provided the structural, mechanical and electrical engineering necessary for replacing Hypo batch reactors with like-kind continuous reactors. The new continuous reactors were similar in geometry to the old batch reactors in order to fit in the existing structure. However they were linked with cascading piping for sufficient retention/reaction time. Due to pipe cloggage worries the new reactors were also equipped with vertical pumps for moving the slurry from reactor to reactor. Phosphine gas is given off during the reaction process which is explosive upon contacting the atmosphere adding complexity to the system. Matrix assisted in the layout and design of the new reactors. Of particular interest was a 3/4" plate rolled pump guard plate for protecting the vertical pump from being walloped from lumps and/or the massive agitator impellers. Auxiliary horizontal pumps were also employed as a back-up to the vertical pumps. The system also required a new dense phase transporter for conveying hydrated lime to top of the reactor structure.
MIXING BATCH TUB
We provided the mechanical and electrical engineering needed to upgrade a vintage 1905 candy mixing tub to a modern mixing design for batching monocalcium phosphate. The reaction, which takes place during mixing, brings the product to a consistency of wet concrete before crystallization. Over 300-hp worth of mixing energy is dissipated into this restored tub. A 200-hp adjustable frequency drive was employed to adjust the speed of the mixing rotor during different stages of the reaction. Rhone-Poulenc engineers had estimated around a million dollars to buy and install a new modern mixer along with the relocations of auxiliary equipment. Using this approach, total project cost was under 100k.