Pilot Plant Operations

We design, build and operate small scale, semi-continuous pilot plants for the chemical, pharmaceutical and petroleum industries. Pilot plant engineering is conducted using detailed, molecular level modeling. This allows for greater confidence in scale-up, or alternatively, greater scale-up factors. Our models, often relying on Z-BaSIC physical and thermodynamic properties, may be used for large-scale engineering. We close the material balance on all of our operations, using capacity/sensitivity ratios that allow for three-significant-figure measurments.


Unit 1) 10 tray, 4 ft x 4 in, continuous unit, 316 SS construction, with or without reboiler, with or without reflux. Each tray independently temperature monitored, with sample ports. Trays may be custom designed for each application, and include sieve, bubble cap or valve configurations. Pressure range is 0.9 - 5 atm, but modifications may be made to operate outside this range. Guard heaters are used for rapid startup, and to simulate adiabatic operation.

Unit 2) The unit described above can be run in a packed-column mode. Also, easily run in a stripper mode.

Unit 3) ASTM D -2892 TBP packed column, glass batch still. 3 to 10 liters/batch. Used for crude oil assays, purification of chemical or pharmaceutical streams and small-scale production.

Unit 4) Glass microstill for distilling small-scale samples.

Liquid-Liquid Extraction

Unit-1 A 6 stage, pulsed perforated plate, semi-continuous counter-current extractor is used to determine partition functions and process yields for scale-up purposes. Using Z-BaSIC, models at the molcular level can be constructed, if requested, giving confidence to commercial sized scale-up. The column can be run in either a 2" diameter or if feedstock volumes are limited a 1" diameter mode.

Unit-2 Separatory funnel 'shake tests' can be conducted for purposes of screening of process conditions. Typical variables include solvent selection, solvent-to-oil ratio, and temperature. Single stage partition functions can be determined at the molecular level.


Unit-1 Small-scale semi-continuous hydroprocessing includes hydropyrolysis (homogeneous thermal hydrocracking), catalytic hydrotreating or catalytic hydrocracking. The system is rated at about 600 C, and 1500 psig. Maximum throughput capacity is on the order of 0.8 liters/hour. The unit is best used to produce liter quantities of samples for analysis and inspections. Used with tar sand syncrude, kerogen oil, biomass conversion, etc. With certain modifications the unit could be used for catalytic cracking in microactivity tests (MAT).

Call us to discuss your specific requirements 801-975-1456