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Valorization of Biomass Pyrolysis By-Products for Heat Production in the Ontario Steel Industry: A Techno-Economic Analysis
Jamie Rose, Thomas A. Adams II
November 5, 2021 (v1)
As part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the iron and steel industry, which are especially pertinent in Canada due to rising carbon taxes, Canadian producers have been investigating the effects of replacing coal used in pulverized coal injection with biochar. Although there has been research into the economic value and effect on net life cycle emissions of using the biochar product itself, there are no comprehensive techno-economic analyses which investigate the value and potential uses of the by-products of biomass pyrolysis. These by-products include volatile organic compounds, known collectively as tar or bio-oil, and light gases, which are mainly hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane. Since only 20-30% of the mass of pyrolyzed biomass is actually converted to char, with the rest converted to the by-products, [1] usage of these by-products is likely the key to increasing the value of biochar to a degree that makes up for the market price of biochar currently... [more]
Simulations of candidate vaccine injections: A talk for chemical process systems engineers
Thomas A Adams II, David A Christian, Mosana Abraha, Christopher A Hunter, Ross M Kedl
October 14, 2020 (v2)
Subject: Biosystems
Keywords: COVID-19, immune process systems, immune system model, stochastic finite state machine, vaccine development
This work highlights the role of process system engineering (PSE) principles (especially simulation and optimization) in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and other kinds of vaccines. As a result of a unique multi-national collaboration of PSE-minded chemical engineers, immunologists, and pathologists, we have created computer models of how the human body's immune system responds to vaccine injections of various kinds. The STochastic Omentum REsponse model (STORE) is stochastic, agent-based, and dynamic, and tracks how T-cells and antigen presenting cells interact, change, divide, and respond after an immune event such as a vaccine injection or an infection. Using model parameters related to dosage, injection schedule, genetic traits of the patient, and various vaccine or immune system properties, the STORE model can be used to predict how the human body responds in the days and weeks after a vaccine injection.

The STORE model consists of a collection of small, agent-based mode... [more]
A Detailed Mathematical Model for Evaluation of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Performance Degradation
Mina Naeini, James S. Cotton, Thomas A. Adams II
October 14, 2020 (v1)
Keywords: Degradation rate, Long-term performance, Optimal operation, SOFCs
The performance of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) degrades due to various reactions. Lack of a general model based on these reactions that predicts SOFCs long-time performance with few assumptions, limits commercialization of SOFCs. In this work, a detailed mathematical model is constructed to evaluate SOFCs long-term performance with regard to operating conditions. Most of the reactions that greatly deteriorates SOFCs components; such as Ni coarsening and oxidation, anode pore diameter changes, deterioration of anode conductivity and electrolyte conductivity, and sulfur poisoning are considered in this model to ensure that it yields reliable and precise results. A broad literature survey indicated that previously developed models only account for a part of these reactions and hence they do not provide accurate results. Rest of the models, on the other hand, are regression models that have been fitted to experimental data and thus are valid in a limited range of operating parameters.... [more]
Design and Eco-techno-economic Analyses of SOFC/Gas Turbine Hybrid Systems Accounting for Long-Term Degradation
Haoxiang Lai, David Tucker, Nor Farida Harun, Thomas Adams II
June 30, 2020 (v1)
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are a promising next-generation technology for power production from fossil fuels. Because they convert chemical energy into electricity electrochemically, they are generally more efficient than combustion-based power plants due to the thermodynamic limitations of combustion cycles, and accordingly, have lower carbon intensities [1]. However, one of the main drawbacks of SOFCs (and SOFC stacks) is that they can degrade over time in a variety of ways, including accruing damage to the anode, cathode, interconnects, and other cell or stack components. SOFCs are most commonly used in “constant power” mode, in which the fuel flow rate and current density are increased over time to counteract the degradation effects and yield a constant power output. However, higher flow rates cause the degradation rates to grow even faster, resulting in a lifetime potentially as short as 1.5 years [2].

Recent research has found that by operating in “constant voltage” mode,... [more]
Single Shooting Method for Semicontinuous Distillation Design
Pranav Bhaswanth Madabhushi, Thomas Alan Adams II
November 13, 2019 (v2)
Keywords: Boundary Value Problem, CasADi, Cyclic Steady State, Semicontinuous Distillation, Single Shooting
Ternary separation using the process of semicontinuous distillation was proposed to be carried out in a single distillation column and a process vessel, which is called the middle vessel [1]. During the process of separation, inlet and outlet material streams of the middle vessel are either operational or non-operational based on its state. With the help of these state-dependent discrete actions, periodic feed charges and the intermediate-boiling product discharges are carried out in the middle vessel, while the low and high volatile components are removed continuously from the column. This periodic process is thus modelled mathematically as a limit-cycle oscillating hybrid system [2] for design purposes. The semicontinuous distillation process design involves estimating equipment sizes, controller tuning parameters, and column design parameters which are all time-invariant parameters of the oscillating hybrid system. These system parameters are chosen to operate the process in a hydra... [more]
Training All Chemical Engineers in Computing and Data Science
Alexander Dowling
November 11, 2019 (v3)
Subject: Education
Keywords: Active Learning, Multivariate Statistics, Numerical Methods, Python, Undergraduate Education
In this contribution, I will discuss ongoing efforts to retool the sophomore-level “Numerical and Statistical Analysis” course (required) to provide a scaffolding for all students to develop core competencies in computing, applied statistics, and mathematical modeling throughout their undergraduate experience and profession careers. Beginning in Spring 2019, we are transitioning from MATLAB to Python for several reasons including consistency with “Chemical Process Control” (junior, required) and college-wide electives in data science and statistical computing that already use Python. I will also share experiences using Jupyter notebooks and cloud-based computing platforms such as Colaboratory to incorporate active learning into lectures and tutorials and to remove technical barriers for students. Content and assignments have been reorganized to emphasize mastery of foundational skills in preference over content breadth. For example, students are now required to submit hand-written pseu... [more]
Towards Quality by Design to recover high-quality products from waste and wastewater streams
Céline Vaneeckhaute
November 2, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Optimization
Keywords: Mathematical modelling, Optimization, Process control, Product quality, Quality by Design, Resource Recovery
Recovering nutrients from wastewaters and wastes, such as sewage sludge and food waste, as sustainable bio-based products provides a key solution to major environmental problems. Classical technology development approaches for resource recovery largely ignore the real-world variability in raw waste materials, which currently hinders the successful implementation of recovery strategies. A major challenge is to create a consistent, sustainable and environmentally friendly supply of high-quality end-products that can compete with fossil-derived products currently on the market. There is urgent need for a paradigm shift from classical technology development approaches to sustainable integrated end-user focused strategies, supported by a reliable, competitive and repeatable quality assurance framework. An improved balance between efficiency and cost in bio-based production chains is needed, while continuously assuring product quality and safety. This
presentation suggests the use of a qual... [more]
Program enhancement: Faculty reflections on the graduate attribute process five years on
Jonathan Verrett
October 21, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: accreditation, faculty engagement, graduate attributes, program improvement
In response to the outcomes-based accreditation model, the Chemical Engineering and Chemical and Biological programs at the University of British Columbia identified 60 indicators to evaluate the 12 graduate attributes outlined by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). These indicators are evaluated in each of years 2, 3 and 4 of the program in order to track student progress. Indicator data collection began to be implemented in the 2014/2015 academic year. Indicator data has been collected each year and trends in this data have been analyzed.
These indicators are now undergoing a broad review by the programs to assess their effectiveness. As part of this process, semi-structured interviews were conducted with each faculty member involved in instructing both programs. These interviews focused on a number of topics including:

• appropriateness of current indicator assignments to courses
• confidence as to whether the data gathered in the course measures the indicator... [more]
Synergy Through Sharing: Open Resources and Technological Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education
Jonathan Verrett
October 21, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: computational notebooks, online homework, open education
Open educational resources (OER) can be defined as freely-accessible openly licensed works that can be used for teaching, learning and research. Studies have shown OER to be equally as effective or better than conventional resources (1). The University of British Columbia’s Chemical and Biological Engineering Department has developed a number of OER over the past few years in collaboration with a variety of partners within and outside of the university. This poster will present two of the OER developed for use in a variety of departmental core courses.

One OER developed was open online homework problems on the WeBWorK system. This online homework system, commonly used by many math departments, issues each student a unique set of numbers for a problem. The system provides students with instant feedback and can interpret a variety of mathematical operations, allowing solutions to be formatted in a number of ways. This allows students to collaborate in solving the problem without havin... [more]
Optimal Design of a Distillation System for the Flexible Polygeneration of Dimethyl Ether and Methanol Under Uncertainty
Thomas A Adams II, Tokiso Thatho, Matthew C Le Feuvre, Christopher LE Swartz
October 22, 2019 (v2)
Keywords: Dimethyl Ether, Distillation, Flexible polygeneration, Methanol, Optimization, Polygeneration, Process Design Under Uncertainty
This presentation concerns the promising new area of flexible polygeneration, a chemical process design concept in which a chemical plant is able to change its product outputs throughout its lifetime in response to changing market conditions, business objectives, or other external factors. In this talk we present a new flexible polygeneration process system that can switch between dimethyl ether (DME) or methanol production, depending on need. Classic flexible polygeneration systems typically utilize separate process trains for each product, in which whole process trains are turned on or off (or up or down) depending on the current product. However, our proposed process combines the two process trains into one, in which most of the process equipment is always used during either mode of production, but with different operating conditions. In this work, we show how this significantly reduces capital expenditure, reduces the plant footprint, and ultimately is more economical than a tradit... [more]
POSTER: Lessons Learned from Renovation of NJIT’s Chemical Engineering Curriculum through an Infusion of Computation and Multiphysics Modeling
Roman Voronov
October 6, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: chemical engineering, computation, Computational science, comsol, Curriculum, Education, Graphical user interface, multiphysics, STEM Outreach, survey
This poster was presented by me at the CACHE 50th Anniversary meeting on the Future of Cyber Assisted Chemical Engineering Education: http://cache50th.org/?page=youngfaculty

It summarizes my experiences with rennovating the New Jersey Institute of Technology's Chemical Engineering Curriculum through an Infusion of Computation and Multiphysics Modeling. It also proposes the use of COMSOL Multiphysics Apps as a teaching visual aide.
Illustrating Molecular-Level Phenomena and Molecular Simulation Techniques with Commonly Used Software
Rachel Getman
August 24, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: Chemical Reaction Engineering, Intermolecular Forces, Matlab, Microsoft Excel, Molecular simulations, Molecular-level phenomena, Monte Carlo, Python, Quantum Simulations, WebMO
While topics in the chemical engineering curriculum generally involve the macroscale, e.g., focusing on process design and optimizations, many of the grand challenges facing chemical engineers today involve molecular level chemistry. Having an appreciation for molecular-level phenomena will better prepare chemical engineers to handle problems in energy, water, food, catalysis, advanced materials, and other fields. In this presentation, we discuss homework/project problems that we have developed for use in the Material and Energy Balances, Separations, Kinetics, and Thermodynamics courses that explore molecular level phenomena and molecular-level simulation approaches. Specifically, these problems focus on intermolecular interactions, connections between molecular configurations and macroscopic observables, how molecular level properties control material performance, and simulation strategies that enable exploration of the molecular level. An aim of the assignments is to demonstrate sim... [more]
Scaling Relations in Modular Process Design
Michael Baldea, Burke A. Snowden, Tam T. Do, Calvin Tsay
August 6, 2019 (v1)
Keywords: Process Design, Process Modularization
This presentation deals with the issue of modularization of chemical plants, defined in the sense of designing smaller-capacity facilities (“modules”) that could be used to process geographically-distributed resources or serve distributed customers. Using established scaling relations, it is demonstrated that technologies that scale up well (i.e., for which capital cost increases sublinearly with capacity) scale down poorly, and vice versa. A further analysis of scale-down and modularization is carried out from the perspective of scaling of individual unit operations and their contribution to the plant cost stack. Following the same line of reasoning, it is shown that units that scale down well will scale up poorly and vice-versa. On this basis, it is argued that scaling relations can be used not only to guide the design of modular processes based on existing technology, but also to direct research towards new designs that alleviate the cost problems associated with units that have poo... [more]
Graphical User Interfaces as Chemical Engineering Educational Tools in University and Informal Learning Environments
Ashlee N. Ford Versypt
July 30, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: Computational science, Curriculum, Education, Graphical user interface, Modelling, STEM Outreach
This presentation discusses the development and use of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) as cyber-assisted educational tools for instructing and engaging undergraduate chemical engineering students, training graduate students for computational research in science and engineering, and introducing lay audiences to chemical engineering concepts in informal learning environments outside of the classroom. A GUI encapsulates computational software within a visual environment where users can provide interactive input through brief text or point-and-click controls and display query or simulation results through an automated process without needing to learn a programming language or specific commands. MATLAB and Python are two popular software environments for science and engineering used in many university chemical engineering programs worldwide. Both provide excellent user support for rapid development of professional-quality GUIs by engineering educators, academic researchers, and science and... [more]
Toward Integrating Python Throughout the Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Using Google Colaboratory in the Classroom
Alexander Dowling
July 21, 2019 (v2)
Subject: Education
Keywords: Active Learning, Cloud Computing, Data Analysis, Numerical Methods, Python, Statistics, Undergraduate
Computing and data science skills are without doubt extremely valuable for modern (chemical) engineers. Big data, machine learning, predictive modeling, decision science and similar terms are ever-present in job posting, scientific literature, funding announcements, and popular news. Yet, many chemical engineers lack a background in the fundamentals of computer programming, applied statistics, and mathematical modeling for problem solving. Often, student excitement in data-centric topics manifest through self-study with tutorials, extracurricular projects, and online classes whereby students assemble a toolbox of skills but do not learn the fundamentals that transcend each technique.

In this contribution, I will discuss our ongoing efforts at the University of Notre Dame to create a coherent, integrated strategy for computing and data analysis in the undergraduate curriculum. A key focus is retooling the sophomore-level “Numerical and Statistical Analysis” course (required) to provi... [more]
Modernizing the Undergraduate Process Design Curriculum
Thomas Alan Adams II
July 20, 2019 (v1)
Subject: Education
Keywords: Curriculum, Education, Modelling, Process Design, Process Synthesis, Simulation
In this talk, I give an overview of the chemical engineering curriculum at McMaster University as it relates to the 1.5 year process design sequence. The courses outside the design sequence were recently restructured and redesigned to create an environment with more modelling and algorithmic thinking/algorithmic problem solving. This includes a statistics course and a big data / machine learning course. The end result is that the design sequence is able to focus on state of the art tools and methods for process design because students receive many fundamental principles before the design sequence begins.
Systems Design of a Petroleum Coke IGCC Power Plant: Technical, Economic, and Life cycle Perspectives
Ikenna Joseph Okeke, Thomas A Adams II
July 12, 2019 (v1)
Keywords: Carbon Dioxide Capture, Electricity, Gasification, IGCC, Life Cycle Analysis, Petroleum Coke
The petroleum coke gasification integrated gasification combined cycle power plant (petcoke-IGCC) is a promising avenue for disposal of the ever-growing amount of stockpiled petroleum coke. In this work, we present a novel techno-economic and life cycle assessment of the process operated with carbon capture and sequestration. The proposed petcoke-to-electricity plant is designed and simulated in Aspen Plus v10. The proposed power plant was compared against coal integrated gasification combined cycle (coal-IGCC) and supercritical pulverized coal power plants operated with carbon capture and sequestration. The results showed that although the efficiency of the coal-IGCC plant is higher than the petcoke-IGCC plant, the higher energy density of the petcoke and lower resource costs were such that the levelized cost of electricity of petcoke-IGCC was lower than coal-IGCC. Furthermore, the feed flow rate of petcoke to the petcoke-IGCC process is approximately 15% lower than the coal feed rate... [more]
Maximizing Our Impact: A call for the standardization of techno-economic analyses for sustainable energy systems design research
Thomas A Adams II
July 17, 2019 (v3)
Keywords: eco-Technoeconomic Analysis, Life Cycle Analysis, Standardization, Technoeconomic Analysis
This presentation makes the case for the development of a new ISO standard for conduction eco-technoeconomic analyses (eTEAs) within the field of energy systems engineering and chemical process systems engineering. The talk provides a motivating example of a recent study that showed how standardization of eTEAs made it possible to make fair comparisons between different types of power plants using carbon capture and sequestration by using eTEAs reported in the literature that have been converted to certain standards. That lead to informed decisions which were not possible without standardization methods, because it major variables are controlled such that analyses can focus on the value of the process concept itself rather than external factors like size, financing, and case-specific assumptions. Then, the talk outlines how the proposed ISO standards would work, their goals and scope, examples of standard practices, methods, and assumptions that could be used and what they might look l... [more]
High Order Modeling of Overdamped Continuous Processes
Francisco Sanchez Careaga, Carlos Narvaez
November 2, 2018 (v1)
Keywords: Dynamic System Analysis, Process Control, Process Identification, Process Modeling
The dynamic response of continuous processes is a key issue for their control. To represent this
response, first order models are used, mainly because of their simplicity and the lack of simple methods for parameter estimation of higher order models. Although first order models may be sufficient in many cases, there are times when a higher order model needs to be used to achieve good control. This paper presents a simple graphical procedure for the estimation of the two time constants, the gain, and the dead time of a second order linear model. The procedure uses only four readings from the step response curve of the processes, and very simple formulas to determine parameter values.
Measurement of penetration and cycle time of jets from an industrial fluid coking spray nozzle
Francisco Sanchez Careaga, Cedric Briens, Franco Berruti
October 30, 2018 (v1)
Keywords: Fluidization, Liquid Injection in Fluidized Beds
Fluid CokingTM is a process to upgrade heavy oils through thermal cracking. Oil is injected in a downward-flowing bed of hot coke particles, where it heats up and cracks into smaller vapour molecules. The down-flowing coke particles are sent to a burner where they are reheated and send back to the reactor to provide heat for cracking reactions. Liquid sprayed with atomization gas into a fluidized bed forms a jet cavity that absorbs bubbles from the bubbling bed and periodically releases a large bubble from its tip. The jet penetration length, thus, cycles. With a faster jet cycle, the liquid is distributed more uniformly inside the bed, which is highly desirable. Poor liquid distribution increases the formation of wet agglomerates that slow down the coking reactions and lead to operating problems in commercial Fluid CokersTM. A novel method is proposed to measure the jet penetration and cycle time in large, room-temperature fluidized beds. It is applied to the study of jet cavities fro... [more]
A novel sustainable design for production of liquid fuels
Leila Hoseinzade, Thomas A Adams II
October 30, 2018 (v1)
In this study, a novel biomass-gas-and-nuclear-to-liquids (BGNTL) process is proposed. In this process, nuclear heat is used as the heat source of a steam methane reforming (SMR) process. In a prior work, a rigorous model was developed for the integrated nuclear heat and steam methane reforming process in the gPROMS software package. This model was applied to simulate the integrated nuclear heat and SMR section of BGNTL in Aspen Plus within the other process sections. The BGNTL process was considered for producing different fuels including gasoline & diesel or dimethyl ether (DME). Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is considered as an optional section. The performance of the BGNTL process was compared against a non-nuclear process called biomass-and-gas-to-liquids (BGTL). The efficiency, economics, and environmental impact analyses show that the BGNTL process to produce DME is the most efficient, economic and environmentally friendly process among the considered designs. As a resu... [more]
Techno-Economic Analysis of Combining Petroleum Coke and Natural Gas for Efficient Liquid Fuels Production
Ikenna Joseph Okeke, Thomas A Adams II
October 30, 2018 (v1)
Waste petcoke can be converted to liquid fuels instead of stockpiling which reduces the net CO2 emission by displacing additional petroleum usage. In this study, three petcoke to liquid fuels designs were compared based on the following performance criteria: conversion efficiency, economics, and environmental impacts. The designs considered were petcoke gasification only, a combination of natural gas reforming and petcoke gasification, and natural gas reforming integrated in the petcoke gasification step. The processes were modeled and simulated using a combination of Aspen Plus v10, ProMax, and gProms software. Each of the configurations were designed to operate with and without carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology along with a corresponding carbon emission penalty. Performance metrics analyzed were the net present value, minimum diesel selling price, cost of CO2 avoided, and cradle to plant exit gate life cycle greenhouse gas emissions. From the analysis, the integration... [more]
Techno-economic System Analysis for SOFC/GT Hybrid System Accounting for Degradation Effects
Haoxiang Lai, Thomas Adams II
October 30, 2018 (v1)
Keywords: Modeling and simulation, Process design, SOFC/GT Hybrid, Technoeconomic Analysis
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) produce power with higher efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emission than conventional power production systems such as coal/natural gas power plants. However, a major challenge with SOFCs is that they degrade over time, leading to a short lifetime and limiting their commercialization. When operated in constant power mode—the most common way of baseload power production—the lifetime of an SOFC is as short as around 1.5 years. As an SOFC starts to degrade, the fuel rate and current density must increase in order to compensate and keep power production at a constant level. This compounds the problem by actually increasing the rate of degradation further, resulting in an exponentially increasing degradation rate and therefore a short lifetime.
It has recently been found that by operating the SOFC differently with constant voltage instead of power, the degradation rate can be slowed such that the cell lifetime can be increased to around 13-14 years. In th... [more]
Rolling Horizon Model for Gasoline Blend Planning under Uncertainty in Demands
mahir jalanko, Vladimir Mahalec
October 30, 2018 (v1)
Keywords: production planning under uncertainty, supply-demand pinch
Use rolling horizon model to solve the gasoline blend planning under uncertainty in products demands. We show that an aggregated model based on supply-demand pinch points can improve executions times greatly
Meta-study of carbon dioxide capture technologies: Finding the signal in the noise.
Thomas Alan Adams II, Leila Hoseinzade, Pranav Bhaswanth Madabhushi, Ikenna J. Okeke
October 31, 2018 (v2)
Keywords: Carbon Capture, Carbon Dioxide Sequestration, Chemical Looping Combustion, CO2 membrane, IGCC, Oxyfuels, Post-combustion capture, Pre-combustion capture, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
We conducted a meta-study of CO2 capture processes, examining nearly 100 techno-economic analyses published in the recent open literature. Normally, it is difficult to compare one study to another because each study uses its own set of assumptions, such as plant scale, geography, market parameters, and inconsistent definitions of key metrics such as the cost of CO2 avoided (CCA). In this work, we present normalized versions of these studies using a consistent basis of comparison, such as net power delivered, base year of operation, pipeline CO2 pressure, currency, country of construction, and so on. In so doing, we are able to draw meaningful conclusions and direct comparisons between different classes of CO2 capture technology. The technologies considered include coal and gas-based processes using capture strategies including solvent-based post-combustion carbon capture, gasification-based strategies, membrane-based approaches, oxyfuel combustion, chemical looping combustion, calcium... [more]
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