Question: We have developed a very interesting process for the recycling of mercury in laboratory scale. The reaction is exothermic. What happens during the scale-up with the temperature? Does it remain acceptable or do we need to take action?
Pragmatic estimation of the maximum temperature of the exothermic reaction in the scale-up from the laboratory scale to production scale.
Managing Director, Recycling Company
Our client developed an interesting process for immobilizing Mercury. Anyone who has had to deal with chemical reaction technology knows: scale-up is difficult. Volume and surface do not change to the same extent, so the transmission characteristics change.
Our client had to prove to the TÜV that his process would be safe, even on a larger scale. We should provide him with this proof – or show him what he should do.
We approached the issue pragmatically. To answer the question clearly and to document the answer, our chemical engineers prepared a small calculation program. Both the heating phase and the reaction and cooling phase were implemented with the reaction kinetics.
With this calculation program, we carried out various sensitivity studies to evaluate the scale-up even under various uncertainties. The result was clear: the maximum temperature would have risen above the permissible value. It was clear the client had to take measures to avoid a safety risk for his employees.
The client was grateful he had this knowledge; otherwise, he would have made a fatal error.