Energy study and analysis at a cumene production plant

Type: Master project (30 credits)

Period: 2016 Autumn / 2017 Spring


Assistant: Elfie Méchaussie

Company: INEOS


 Energy integration study of the INEOS Phenol plant in Marl Germany, in line with ISO 50001 compliance. Determination of energy profiles, key performance indicators and improvement options for process integration in relation to their economic impact and legal requirements. Develop the methodology and associated tools (IPESE Osmose tool) to carry out (steam) energy audits on industrial sites, based on the energy audits criteria defined by the international standard ISO 50001, the European standard EN 16247 as well as national audit schemes and criteria.

The study of onsite energy efficiency, optimisation & integration at the company’s manufacturing site is covered by 2 PhD research projects at EPFL-IPESE and INEOS.
The Marl facility in Germany consists of a cumene manufacturing plant.


Determine the energy profile of an industrial site, establish its steam consumption baseline and generate key performance indicators for contributing to the site energy plan and reaching the targets set previous audits. Identify and substantiate min CAPEX / max yield solutions for energy optimisation of the chemical site, primarily focusing on steam use efficiency.


In an effort to move towards a low carbon economy, a chemical site was selected for studying energy efficiency improvement as well as auditing and management techniques. The development and implementation of these techniques should lead, on the one hand to a decrease in energy consumption and therefore to carbon emission reductions, on the other hand set up / support an auditing system in compliance with the international ISO 50001 standard, the European Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and its national/regional implementation. The overall study of onsite energy efficiency, optimisation and integration at the company’s manufacturing site is covered by 2 PhD research projects at EPFL-IPESE and INEOS.
Energy costs and overall rising legislative pressure are the main drivers to continuously improve energy efficiency and integration for industrial companies. The Energy Efficiency Directive as well as the ISO 50001 energy standard provide frameworks regulating the entire energy chain, from its conversion to end-use consumption. It defines measures covering all the energy consuming sectors: buildings, transport, and industry.
Regarding industry, one of the most important EED requirements is the fact that all large companies must undertake energy audits every 4 years. Minimum criteria for good quality energy audits have been established in the directive as well as in the EU & ISO standards (ISO 50001 and EN 16247); they describe the general requirements of the procedure to follow when carrying out energy audits.
The described study should provide:
  • a site energy review: energy bill details and breakdown, material and energy balances of the site (unit based profiles via Pareto analysis), major consumers identification, adding water/steam balances where possible and accounting for third parties on black box level;
  • an energy integration study (rough total site analysis): generating the site energy profile and substantiating non-binding recommendations on energy optimisation, integration opportunities, metering improvements and cost allocation per unit or plant where possible (together with both PhDs), building from available energy audits;
  • internal benchmarking: based on a set of KPI (specific energy consumption) the goal is to establish the profile of the site and compare it with other/similar (INEOS) manufacturing sites.
The study is performed at grey box level, indicating that -if possible and relevant- energy balances, profiles and recommendations are presented at unit or plant level without entering the process details. The aim is to track the energy flows, identify returns, losses, efficiencies, etc. and spot production units or clusters of prior review interest. Data will be collected, structured and reconciled when necessary in order to carry out this task. At all times in this first stage of the work the Pareto principle will be applied.
The project outcomes and optimisation recommendations can be prioritised in close collaboration with the site experts, and further elaborated or repeated in a follow-up study, if so decided.

 Work plan:

The Master thesis is carried out within both an industrial and academic context. The student will be first immersed at the site during a 3-4 months period, collecting data and carrying out applied research. (S)He will have access to all necessary data and information through the collaboration with on-site engineers and operators, and is embedded within the broader context of the PhDs mentioned before. The remaining time will be spent at EPFL, where the student will develop, test and refine the methodology and tools required, based on the collected data.
All projects make use of the IPESE developed OSMOSE tool, and the prospect of developing further methods and tools to reach the set targets are taken into consideration (Matlab, Vali, Aspen, etc.).
A research plan will be defined in the early stages of the work, to be validated by all concerned parties.
The student will report regularly in view of progress update, feedback and input. Local project leaders and onsite engineers are first lines of contact. Weekly meetings are recommended in the early stages of the project, weekly blogs are required throughout the project, and periodic telecons with the supervising team are welcomed.
Half-way through the internship the student will present an intermediary report to the EPFL industrial project leadership team. A thesis report will be written and presented at the end of the internship duration and will be reworked in a final report and presentation in order to discuss, validate and finalise the project with the industrial partner.