During product development, R&D scale-ups, plant
trials, and plant runs, food scientists and engineers
could benefit from methodologies that help them
predict outcomes without performing numerous
experimental runs. To understand how process
simulation can reduce the number of test runs,
and how process simulation is implemented in
Mercosur and other regions, I interviewed Marcelo
Usseglio, process simulation manager and founder
of ProSim Techs, San Fernando, Buenos Aires,
Q:What are process simulations for industrial processes, and how are they performed?
Process optimization tasks refer to selecting/implementing
the best process conditions to improve oil yields, minimize energy
costs, reduce wastewater, maximize the quality of co-products, and
ultimately, to improve profit margins. There are different methods
to perform such optimization tasks.
Usually, industrial tests are performed in the plant, using historical information based on process conditions and lab results.
Typically, only one process variable is changed at a time, all the
results are recorded, and then the impact on the process parameters is analyzed. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but it
involves a relative high cost, time, uncertainty of results and a certain risk to the operation, and it clearly limits the scope and scale of
Process modeling and simulation techniques make it possible to take a more systemic approach to these optimization tasks.
An advanced process simulation model integrates all processing
details, such as particular compounds in the vegetable oil inlet,
processing variables, key equipment characteristics, and other
parameters. Using this model, an unlimited number of process simulation runs can be performed, making it possible to consider all
the process variables— even different qualities of inlet streams—
to identify optimal process conditions. Once optimized conditions
have been met, then industrial test can be performed, reducing
the time, cost, and degree of uncertainty of industrial plant tests.
Therefore, a process simulation study not only can be performed
simulations for process
Latin America Update
is a regular Inform
column that features
fats, oils, and related
materials in that region.