Pinch analysis

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Pinch analysis is a methodology for minimising energy consumption of chemical processes by calculating thermodynamically feasible energy targets (or minimum energy consumption) and achieving them by optimising heat recovery systems, energy supply methods and process operating conditions. It is also known as process integration, heat integration, energy integration or pinch technology.

The process data is represented as a set of energy flows, or streams, as a function of heat load (kW) against temperature (deg C). These data are combined for all the streams in the plant to give composite curves, one for all hot streams (releasing heat) and one for all cold streams (requiring heat). The point of closest approach between the hot and cold composite curves is the pinch point (or just pinch) with a hot stream pinch temperature and a cold stream pinch temperature. This is where the design is most constrained. Hence, by finding this point and starting the design there, the energy targets can be achieved using heat exchangers to recover heat between hot and cold streams in two separate systems, one for temperatures above pinch temperatures and one for temperatures below pinch temperatures. In practice, during the pinch analysis of an existing design, often cross-pinch exchanges of heat are found between a hot stream with its temperature above the pinch and a cold stream below the pinch. Removal of those exchangers by alternative matching makes the process reach its energy target.


Ph.D. student Bodo Linnhoff developed the techniques in late 1977 under the supervision of Dr John Flower at the University of Leeds.[1] In 1977 Linnhoff joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) where he led practical applications and further method development. In 1982 he joined University of Manchester Institute of Technology (UMIST, present day University of Manchester) to continue the work. In 1983 he set up a consultation firm known as Linnhoff March International later acquired by KBC Energy Services.[2]

Many refinements have been developed since and used in a wide range of industries, including extension to heat and power systems and non-process situations. Both detailed and simplified (spreadsheet) programs are now available to calculate the energy targets. A commonly used, free pinch analysis program is PinchLeni.

In recent years, Pinch analysis has been extended beyond energy applications. It now includes:

  • Mass Exchange Networks (El-Halwagi and Manousiouthakis, 1987)
  • Water pinch (Yaping Wang and Robin Smith, 1994; Nick Hallale, 2002; Prakash and Shenoy, 2005)
  • Hydrogen pinch (Nick Hallale et al., 2003; Agrawal and Shenoy, 2006)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ebrahim, M.; Kawari, Al- (2000). "Pinch technology: an efficient tool for chemical-plant energy and capital-cost saving". Applied Energy 65: 45–40. doi:10.1016/S0306-2619(99)00057-4.  edit
  2. ^
  • El-Halwagi, M. M. and V. Manousiouthakis, 1989, "Synthesis of Mass Exchange Networks", AIChE J., 35(8), 1233-1244.
  • Kemp, I.C. (2006). Pinch Analysis and Process Integration: A User Guide on Process Integration for the Efficient Use of Energy, 2nd edition. Includes spreadsheet software. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-8260-4. (1st edition: Linnhoff et al., 1982).
  • Shenoy, U.V. (1995). "Heat Exchanger Network Synthesis: Process Optimization by Energy and Resource Analysis". Includes two computer disks. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, USA. ISBN 0-88415-391-6.
  • Hallale, Nick. (2002). A New Graphical Targeting Method for Water Minimisation. Advances in Environmental Research. 6(3): 377-390
  • Nick Hallale, Ian Moore, Dennis Vauk, "Hydrogen optimization at minimal investment", Petroleum Technology Quarterly (PTQ), Spring (2003)
  • Agrawal, V. and U. V. Shenoy, 2006, "Unified Conceptual Approach to Targeting and Design of Water and Hydrogen Networks", AIChE J., 52(3), 1071-1082.
  • Wang, Y. P. and Smith, R. (1994). Wastewater Minimisation. Chemical Engineering Science. 49: 981-1006
  • Prakash, R. and Shenoy, U.V. (2005) Targeting and Design of Water Networks for Fixed Flowrate and Fixed Contaminant Load Operations. Chemical Engineering Science. 60(1), 255-268.

Pinch analysis software[edit]

  • Pinchleni - Freeware developed by Laboratoire d'Energétique Industrielle de l'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland Pinchleni
  • Online Pinch Analysis Tool - Free for personal and educational use, hosted by the College of Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Simulis Pinch- Tool from ProSim SA that can be used directly in Excel and that is dedicated to the diagnosis and the energy integration of the processes.