Energy integration in petrochemical and refining industries is an effective concept to minimize dependence on heating and cooling utilities through networks of exchanger equipment. Pinch Analysis is very popular and successful technique to optimize heat recovery between heat sources and sinks. Yet, design of networks of exchangers is challenging and requires careful attention to energy consumption and exchanger areas. This work presents a graphical methodology to design exchanger networks taking into account both heat loads and transfer areas of exchanger units in one single information. A new parameter is introduced for design that is the ratio between the heat load and the exchanger area and is determined in kW/m2. It is defined as an energy-area parameter expressing how much heat the exchanger would transfer per every meter square of area. Such parameter will be valuable key in design to screen matches of exchangers providing that both the heat and area are considered. The higher the value of the parameter, the better the performance of the exchanger, i.e. maximum heat transfer rate for minimum exchanger area. The design methodology embedding the energy-area parameter guarantees HEN designs with energy targets and minimum areas. A case is studied for the production of 100,000 t/y of dimethyl ether. An optimum network is generated by applying the new parameter with less exchanger areas and hot utility of 25% and 30%, respectively compared with an automated design by Aspen Energy Analyzer®. Also, substantial savings of about 47% in the total cost of the network are earned.


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Publication Status

Open Access

Keywords and Phrases

Dimethyl ether; Energy-area parameter; Graphical method; Heat integration; HEN; Pinch analysis

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2021