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1 Vinyl Chloride Production By: Jeremy Dry, Bryce Lawson, Phuong Le, Israel Osisanya, Deepa Patel, Anecia Shelton Capstone Design Project- University of Oklahoma - Spring 2003 Introduction The goal of this project is to design an environmentally friendly, safe, and economically profitable vinyl chloride production plant. Environmental friendliness requires that the design go beyond the minimum Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance regulations while maintaining plant profitability. Plant safety includes addressing deviations from normal operation that may have adverse effects on employees or the surrounding community. Process Design Balanced Process Overview The process chosen for vinyl chloride production is a combination of direct chlorination and oxychlorination called the balanced process. Direct chlorination by itself is a process that operates at lower temperatures and produces fewer by products when compared to oxychlorination. Oxychlorination is used in vinyl chloride production because it consumes the hydrochloric acid (HCl) generated by 1,2 dichloroethane (EDC) pyrolysis. This consumption of HCl is the main advantage of using the balanced process. Currently, nearly 95% of the world’s supply is produced using this process, see Figure 1 for the balanced process PFD. The main reactions in the production of VCM are: Direct chlorination CH 2 CH 2 + Cl 2 ClCH 2 CH 2 Cl (EDC) Oxychlorination CH 2 CH 2 + 2 HCl + ½ O 2 ClCH 2 CH 2 Cl + H 2 O EDC pyrolysis 2 ClCH 2 CH 2 Cl 2 CH 2 CHCl + 2 HCl Overall reaction 2 CH 2 CH 2 + Cl 2 + ½ O 2 2 CH 2 CHCl + H 2 O Process Outline The five main processes used in the production of VCM are shown in Figure 1. The five processes include: direct chlorination of ethylene to form EDC, oxychlorination of ethylene to form EDC from recycled HCl and oxygen, purification of EDC, thermal cracking of EDC to form VCM and HCl, and purification of VCM. The reactors were modeled using kinetic data and theoretical design equations to determine specific design parameters. A Pro II simulation was performed on the entire process using various design parameters in order to develop the optimal design. Figure 1: Vinyl Chloride Plant PFD Heavy ends Oxy- chlorination Direct chlorination EDC purification EDC pyrolysis VCM purification HCl recycle Air or O 2 Ethylene Cl 2 Light ends EDC recycle VCM
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2 Direct Chlorination Design Ethylene and chlorine combine in a homogeneous catalytic reaction to form EDC. Due to high selectivity, ferric chloride is the catalyst of choice for chlorination of the ethylene. Normally, the reaction rate is controlled by mass transfer, with absorption of ethylene as the limiting factor. Direct chlorination process equipment includes: a plug flow tubular reactor and a caustic scrubber. See Figure 2 for the direct chlorination P&ID.
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