Dow engineer wins the 3rd annual Plant Innovation Award

This year’s award goes to Bridget Schoonover, senior improvement specialist for Dow in Freeport, Texas, who led a team that validated and implemented a solution to a source of lost revenue at the plant: a waste stream.

By Dirk Willard, senior editor

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The control plans and a revised supply-chain-management model were created using the laboratory results. By conducting an exhaustive study of all possible blends, the team had been able to show that the corrosion rate could be consistently minimized regardless of water concentration when epichlorohydrin is contained in the mixture and the HCl content is lowered by more than 90%. Because epichlorohydrin exists in concentrations of 6% to 12% (by weight) in Stream 3, an epichlorohydrin mass-balance calculation was incorporated into the RCl supply chain inventory management methodology. To predict and control the new mass balances properly, additional analytical capabilities were implemented in the source plants and mixing operations to monitor epichlorohydrin, HCl and water.

“We needed a solution which addressed a complex operation with a easy-to-use solution, addressed risk concerns associated with historical biases and ensured sustainability with zero allowance for failure,” says Schoonover. “Six sigma methodology, a constancy of expectations from sponsors, and pursuit of sufficient data to alleviate stakeholder fear were the elements that allowed us to complete this project successfully.”

The results

Schoonover provided leadership and initiative to make this project a success, note people at Dow. It was an excellent challenge to her six-sigma skills. She was tenacious in ensuring the solution was validated and the control plan would truly sustain the project’s goals. She maintained momentum over the two years it took to complete the Measure Analyze Improve Control (MAIC) and capital part of the project. This was a very complex project involving experiment design, lab work, project management and operating expertise, while taking into account the interests of numerous stakeholders of six units.

Rickey Williams, Texas Site optimization and integration leader, says, “The innovation and the multi-manufacturing unit cooperation displayed by this team allowed for a giant step forward in the reliability of the Freeport Site, which is Dow’s largest and most highly integrated site. Good management of a multitude of byproducts from numerous plants is an absolute necessity in the efficient management of a large site. This project not only solved the immediate issue of the corrosion of Stream 3, but the opened the door for more recycle and recovery capability on the site.”

Since its startup in March 2006, the project has boasted essentially defect-free operation and has allowed has allowed for 36 million lbs. of RCL Stream 3 to be recycled instead of incinerated. The more than 17 million lbs. of supplemental HCl feedstock created has yielded approximately $600,000 to $800,000 in cost savings. It was implemented without a single EHS incident. Steve Gluck says, “the R&D team’s technical solution was implemented through a level of operations and personnel complexity that was truly breakthrough.

Indeed, early expectations from stakeholders were very discouraging regarding potential success.” Glenn Lord, R&D Director adds, “Because of the success of this project, we are now evaluating to potentially increase the recycle capacity by incorporating previously excluded wet RCl streams.” Dow’s sustainability goal through eco-efficiency was implemented through creative technical and people solutions.

Bridget was recognized with a Keepsake Award, which is the highest special achievement award given at DOW.

We at Chemical Processing extend our appreciation to our Editorial Board for judging the entries.

Vic Edwards of Aker Kvaener in Houston, Texas
Tim Frank of Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.
Ben Paterson of Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Ind.
Roy Sanders of PPG Industries in Lake Charles, La.
Ellen Turner of Eastman Chemical in Kingsport, Tenn.
Ben Weinstein of Proctor & Gamble in West Chester, Ohio
Jon Worstell of Shell Chemical in Houston, Texas
Sheila Yang of Fluor in South San Francisco, Calif.

About the PIA

The Plant Innovation Award (PIA) was inaugurated in 2005 by Chemical Processing  to enhance the peer recognition of engineers who solve challenging problems at existing facilities with ingenuity and creativity. Unfortunately, such engineers rarely get visibility beyond their employers for such accomplishments. PIA is the only public award of its kind.

To be considered for the award, the solution must have been successfully implemented at a plant and must have led to significant benefits, e.g., in capacity, quality, safety, environmental compliance, reliability or a combination of factors. Fuller details on the criteria and what’s involved in a nomination are posted on

The CP Editorial Board assesses the innovativeness and significance of the engineering achievements. It can vote to have a single or multiple winners or none at all.

Previous winners of PIA are Praxair in 2006 (see 2006 PAI article) and Dow Chemical and Baxter Healthcare in 2005 (see 2005 PAI article).

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