This project describes the initial research and design decisions for the detailed design of a chemical plant that can produce medical-grade polycaprolactone (PCL) on a large scale. These include the constraints on the project as well as decisions about reactor features, catalyst system, and separation methods. Key designs features of reactors, falling-strand devolatilizers, and extruders were presented, such as operation temperature and pressure and equipment materials of construction. Engineering considerations, market factors, and design norms all influenced the results of this report. The primary use of the polycaprolactone will be in PCL-bioactive-glass composite, which can be used in medical procedures such as bone or cartilage repair. The medical grade polycaprolactone will be sold for $410 per kg, an economically profitable rate. Combination methods for the PCL-bioactive-glass composite were researched to gain a better understanding of the requirements for the polycaprolactone. This composite production is intended to be executed by an outside party.
We would like to thank Professor Jeremy VanAntwerp for his knowledgeable support of the project and the team.
We would also like to thank Dr. Phil Brondsema for his enthusiasm for this project, his willingness to be a long-distance advisor, his countless ideas, his donation of $500 worth of reference books and textbooks, and his many helpful contacts at Celanese.
We offer our thanks to Robert Deck and Emad Choudhury, who work at Celanese with Phil Brondsema, for their time and advice and their willingness to have Skype meetings with us to discuss our project and the practicalities of our design.
A final thank you goes to Professor Chad Tatko for his willingness to answer chemistry and biocompatibility questions whenever we dropped by his office.