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Chemical manufacturing made pure and simple



Sulzer’s expertise in crystallization enhances product quality and manufacturing performance. Process simplification is key to manufacturers staying ahead in a highly competitive market, as it allows them to deliver products of higher quality at lower costs. When a premier Chinese producer of food additives, Wuhan Youji Industries, wanted to review one of its purification processes, Sulzer offered an ideal solution. Advanced fractional crystallization technologies allowed the manufacturer to reach quality levels that were unattainable with its existing equipment while at the same time improving efficiency.

With production capacities of 200’000 tonnes  per annum [approx. 220’400 tons per annum] benzoic acid, including 60’000 tonnes per annum [approx. 66’100 tons per annum] of high purity benzoic acid  and 50’000 tonnes per annum [approx. 55’100 tons per annum] benzyl alcohol, Wuhan Youji is a global leader in antisepsis, preservation and antioxidation as well as an award-winning pioneer in China’s food additive industry. The company is particularly active in the production and standardization of benzoic acid and benzoates, which are widely used as preservatives. Safety, eco-friendliness and health are key aspects that Wuhan Youji promotes in its own operations and good manufacturing practice guidelines. This commitment drives the company to regularly simplify and enhance its processes.

Recently, the company decided to improve one of its most challenging processes: the purification of benzyl benzoate. Used in flavor and fragrance industries, the chemical needs to have extremely low levels of impurities and appear colorless, i.e. any remaining foreign matter should not affect the benzyl benzoate’s appearance. Therefore, separation processes that rely on crystallization are a must, in order to achieve such a highly concentrated substance.

Wuhan Youji’s existing purification method was based on suspension crystallization. It involved several complex stages as well as a number of pieces of equipment, such as crystallizers, centrifuges and waste disposal systems. In addition, the procedure required constant human intervention and manual operations.

Repeating previous success

To succeed in this ambitious task, Wuhan Youji contacted Sulzer, the leader in separation and mixing technology. The two businesses had developed a good working relationship based on previous projects – Sulzer delivered two high-performance and efficient separation systems for the purification of benzoic acid. Based on the success of these projects, the chemical manufacturer was keen on getting an innovative solution for the purification of benzyl benzoate.

“By using our proprietary, fully-automated falling film crystallizers, Wuhan Youji was able to produce benzoic acid of the highest quality and purity, greatly increasing the business’ competitiveness in China,” explains Matthias Schäfer, Project Manager at Sulzer.

Sulzer’s specialists started looking at how to simplify the purification process for benzyl benzoate by conducting extensive small-scale and pilot plant testing to identify the most suitable and efficient way to remove impurities from the chemical. The in-depth investigation by Sulzer revealed a way to purify benzyl benzoate using a finely tuned static layer crystallization process.

The method would streamline and simplify the process, as it requires only one, fully automated piece of equipment with no moving parts, and doesn’t need solvents nor does it generate waste streams. Furthermore, the technique could handle the high viscosity of benzyl benzoate.

In addition, the analyses were fundamental to estimating the number of stages required to reach a high level of purity as well as construct an ideal temperature profile. In effect, the temperature-sensitivity of the chemical required a highly accurate temperature profile to regulate the crystallization and melting phases, which are separated by narrow temperature intervals. The knowledge and expertise of Sulzer’s engineers, the in-depth testing and the high-quality separation equipment contributed to successfully overcoming these issues.

Well-planned crystallization

Based on the process developed by Sulzer, the feed in the static crystallizer undergoes stages of cooling and heating to separate benzyl benzoate from the impurities. When the temperature within the crystallizers are below the freezing point of the melt (between 14 and 4°C), benzyl benzoate crystals build up on the outer surface of the plates. Impurities are largely rejected from the growing crystals and are concentrated in the remaining melt.

Once all the benzyl benzoate fraction has been crystallized, the liquid phase is drained from the crystallizer, while the purified crystalline layer remains attached to the plates. This is then further purified by sweating (or partial melting), which is a gentle reheating up to the melting point (18°C). The resulting impurity-rich melt is drained off. After sweating, the purified benzyl benzoate crystal layer is totally melted and collected in product storage vessels.

Having two crystallization stages allows the manufacturer to reach a product purity of at least 99.9% w/w, a quality level that is far higher than what the existing suspension crystallization unit could achieve. An additional stripping stage helps to eliminate remaining impurities with boiling temperatures close to benzyl benzoate.

Scaling up to full industrial plant

Based on the successfully developed design, Sulzer proceeded to manufacture, install and start-up the full-scale unit. In order to allow Wuhan Youji to benefit from this new system as soon as possible, the entire project was completed in a record time of 12 months, and the chemical plant can now accommodate a benzyl benzoate product capacity of 5’500 tonnes [approx. 6’000 tons] per year.

Sun Bo, Technical Director at Wuhan Youji, comments: “We are extremely happy with the solution delivered by Sulzer. Not only were they able to greatly simplify our existing process, improving efficiency and resource use, but they also helped us to enhance the quality of our product. Sulzer has been a very reliable partner and we look forward to collaborating again in a near future.”

Matthias Schäfer concludes: “We are particularly delighted with the outcome of this project. Our research and development capabilities helped us create a tailored and highly efficient solution. Customer satisfaction and the continued cooperation with Wuhan Youji clearly attest to our capabilities in separation technology and our commitment to develop complete, customized solutions.”

I manage the editorial affairs for MONETA Tanıtım, which produces specific publishing, specially for the sphere, Turkey industry. We work for content development through digital and print media, with a new generation, dynamic publishing intellection.

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Archimedes Screw Pump Sealed-for-life



Archimedes screw pumps are at the heart of many wastewater treatment facilities. As a result, ensuring the reliability of these pumps is key to overall site efficiency. An area where problems can occur is the submerged lower bearing of the screw pump, which is why ECS Engineering Services is now offering the water sector access to highly reliable Landustrie ECO-friendly replacement lower bearings.

Located underwater at the bottom of the screw pump, lower bearings present maintenance teams with multiple challenges. Accessing and inspecting the submerged bearing is difficult, as drainage of the inlet is required, resulting in extended downtime. This downtime places additional stress on other pumps on site to meet the pumping capacity shortfall.

Then there are the difficulties of working within the tight confines at the bottom of the trough. Lower bearings that utilise forced lubrication feeds further complicate maintenance, as grease pumps and lines require regular inspection to ensure reliability. At water treatment facilities where uptime is vital, a low-maintenance lower bearing is the preferable solution.

The ECO-friendly Landustrie lower bearing requires no annual maintenance. Sealed and lubricated for the lifetime of the bearing, it requires no supporting grease pumps or lines. Easily exchangeable with existing bearings, the completely enclosed unit is also straightforward to install.

The enclosed nature of the bearing also eliminates the need for spares. An inherent three-dimensional self-aligning capability allows the ECO-friendly lower bearing to easily accommodate the expansion and contraction of the screw pump in varied temperatures. Consequently, the bearing provides facility operators with great reductions in pump downtime, maintenance and grease costs.

ECS Engineering Services is a leading provider of engineered solutions to the water industry and the exclusive UK supplier of replacement Landustrie Archimedes screw pumps. The business is currently providing Screw pump services to all of the major UK water companies.

Landustrie offers over a century of experience in water control technology, especially the design and manufacture of screw pumps. In the UK, ECS can provide turnkey installation and maintenance services, giving plant operators easy access to the advantages of ECO-friendly Landustrie lower bearing replacements.

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Optimizing asset performance



For over 80 years, Sulzer has provided maintenance and repair solutions to the South American industry. Today, specialist teams offer a wide range of services for rotating equipment to support customers in power generation, oil & gas, mining and water as well as general industry. In Colombia, the Bogota Service Center provides a comprehensive range of services that includes long-term parts and service contracts, which simplify maintenance projects and reduce lead times for components.

Many industrial operations use rotating equipment for a range of applications. Having in-depth knowledge about pumps, compressors and steam turbines, no matter who built them, is very valuable. Sulzer’s Colombian service center has extensive in-house expertise and can also call on a worldwide network of engineering facilities. This enables repairs and upgrades to be completed efficiently and cost-effectively.

Expert maintenance support

Major industries in Colombia can minimize downtime and improve reliability by taking advantage of Sulzer’s expert maintenance support. Extensive industry knowledge and expertise in rotating equipment ensures that customers receive a fast response for spare parts and servicing.

As a pump original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and independent maintenance provider for all rotating equipment, Sulzer has decades of experience in maximizing reliability and optimizing costs. In-house designers, manufacturing facilities and testing capabilities ensure a comprehensive service.

David Lora, General Manager of Sulzer Colombia, adds “We offer customers the opportunity to take advantage of Sulzer’s expertise in repair technology and to benefit from this knowledge. We are able to organize long-term parts and service contracts for assets, which ensure that maintenance is completed on time and continued reliability is assured.”

In-house specialists

To determine the most opportune time for repairs to be completed, Sulzer can design and install vibration monitoring equipment and analysis tools to implement a preventative maintenance schedule. Using pre-planned outages for repairs is the most cost-effective way to deliver improved reliability.

For pump equipment, Sulzer can also design, build and install the electrical control equipment, including drives and accessories. Matching equipment to the application is just the first step, it is important for the controls to be properly integrated with the wider infrastructure.

In addition to these services, Sulzer also provides experienced field service engineers for on-site support of existing machinery as well as the installation and commissioning of new equipment. These skilled engineers receive regular training, for example API 686, 4th edition, to ensure they are up to date with the latest guidelines on the on the recommended practices for machinery installation and design in the petroleum sector.

Customer training

To help customers with their in-house maintenance, experts from Bogota can deliver training courses on operational best practice and routine maintenance for a wide range of equipment. This helps to extend reliability and the efficiency of important assets, which in turn, optimizes productivity for the customer.   David Lora concludes: “We appreciate the challenges of working in heavy industry and the importance of asset reliability. Our goal is to deliver the most effective and efficient maintenance service for our customers and help them to achieve their objectives.

Sulzer is a global leader in fluid engineering. We specialize in pumping, agitation, mixing, separation and application technologies for fluids of all types. Our customers benefit from our commitment to innovation, performance and quality and from our responsive network of 180 world-class production facilities and service centers across the globe. Throughout the Americas, Sulzer provides cutting-edge parts as well as maintenance and repair solutions for pumps, turbines, compressors, motors and generators. We service our own original equipment as well as third-party rotating equipment operated by our customers. Our technology-based solutions maximize reliability and lifecycle cost effectiveness.

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Digital Displacement pump technology



Most hydraulic machines today have the same basic control mechanism that was first patented in 1893. The variable-angle swash plate pump has been a reliable way to transmit fluid power for over 120 years. Efforts have been made to digitize the mechanism with feedback and electronic control, but the underlying principle has limited benefits.

Our Digital Displacement® pump technology is a natively digital hydraulic innovation. It utilizes a radial piston machine which enables and disables cylinders in real time, using ultra-fast mechatronic valves.

The intelligent, digital controls mean a digitally-enabled machine is highly controllable and extremely efficient. The net result is:

  • Dramatically lower energy losses (typically less than a third of swash-plate machines)
  • Dramatically faster response (typically ten times faster)
  • Reduction of annoying, high-frequency noise

Individual cylinders are only called into action when required to meet the load demanded, resulting in a pump with efficiency over 90 percent. The control of individual cylinders allows a single pump to have multiple independently-controllable services providing system innovators a platform to invent new architectures to unlock the capabilities of digital hydraulics.

By replacing a mechanical or hydraulic device with one which is electronically and digitally controlled, new possibilities of flow metering, response, system control, diagnostics (self-healing) and automation are now possible. The pump is able to create real time data for live streaming via telematics.

Danfoss advanced off-road demonstrators are showing radical improvements in efficiency and controllability.  In multiple field tests, the original axial piston pump was replaced by a Digital Displacement® pump as a simple pump upgrade. Benchmarking to a conventional 16-tonne excavator, fuel consumption on a standard work cycle was reduced between 16 and 21 percent, whilst at the same time, productivity was increased by 28 percent.

At Danfoss Digital Displacement we aim to make the complex, simple, to re-imagine your machine to be optimized and differentiated unlike any on the market. Owned by Danfoss and developed in Scotland over the last 25 years, digital hydraulic technology delivers productivity, response and efficiency that cannot be replicated elsewhere in the market.

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