The most common method for production of phthalic anhydride is by oxidation of o-xylene. Phthalic anhydride is used in the manufacture of plasticizers (additives to polymers to give them more flexibility) and polyesters, among other applications.
The purpose of this project is to determine the “best” process configuration for a phthalic anhydride from o-xylene process subject to constraints which will be defined later. As part of the integrated chemical engineering curriculum at WVU, you will work on more complex versions of this problem through the end of your junior year, when you will have completed the design and evaluation of this process, including design of the equipment and more sophisticated energy and economic analyses than are possible in this semester.
A suggested process flow diagram is attached. You should use this as a starting point. However, any change that you can justify that does not violate the laws of nature is allowed. Your assignment is to develop a “best” case, where “best” is dependent upon economic considerations. The primary issue is how much recycle is necessary/desirable in order to satisfy the flammability limit constraint described below. However, there may be other alternatives which improve process economics which you are left on your own to consider.