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The Art of Decoupling Chemical Reactions: a process systems engineering problem with applications on energy and chemicals production.

May 8, 2020 from 9:00 am10:00 am

Zoom Webinar with George Bollas
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT


The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects the world’s natural gas reserves at 140×1012 m3, out of which roughly 60% is classified as stranded natural gas (remote; distant from the markets; of small capacity). Stranded gas, often shale gas from shale oil wells, is commonly flared or injected back into the wells, with U.S. flaring producing 350×106 tons of CO2 per year. Because of the small well capacity, remote location and small lifecycle, traditional, large-scale chemical plants are economically unrealistic. Therefore, distributed chemical manufacturing enabled through process intensification and modularization are convergent technology enablers for the conversion of stranded natural gas to power or chemicals. In this presentation, distributed chemical looping combustion is explored as a dynamic chemical reactor design problem. We focus on intensification and modularization of scalable reactors and specifically on leveraging the compact design and the limited need for gas-solid separation in small packed bed reactors. The continuous operation of fixed bed reactors using gaseous fuels for the purpose of power generation through integration with a combined cycle power plant is studied. The fixed bed reactors are assumed to operate in a semi-batch mode composed of reactor modules that are integrated into module trains that comprise the chemical-looping reactor island of the distributed power plant. Scheduling of each reactor train is cast as an optimization problem that maximizes thermodynamic efficiency, subject to constraints imposed to each reactor and the entire island. It is shown that when the chemical looping reactors are arranged cyclically, each feeding to or being fed from another reactor, in an operating scheme that mimics simulated moving bed reactors, the thermodynamic efficiency of the reactor island can be improved. Allowing the reversal of module order in the cyclically arranged reactor modules further improves the overall thermodynamic efficiency, while satisfying constraints imposed for carbon capture, fuel conversion, power plant safety and oxygen carrier stability. A thermodynamic efficiency up to 84.7% (defined as the fraction of enthalpy sent to the gas turbine of a combined cycle power plant over the total energy output of the reactor) is shown possible. We will close this presentation with an outlook to the application of chemical looping on ammonia production via alkali metals, nitride and imide intermediates. We explore a decision tree as a process for identification of feasible chemical looping chemistries that are good candidates for intensification options to process stranded natural gas for ammonia synthesis.



Dr. George Bollas is a Professor with the Chemical and Biomolecular Department and the Director of the United Technologies Corporation Institute of Advanced Systems Engineering at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Bollas received B.E. and Ph.D. degrees from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the Chemical Engineering Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His laboratory pursues a balanced approach to information theory for experimentation and testing guided by robust modeling and optimization with applications on energy, manufacturing and the aerospace industry. Dr. Bollas is the recipient of the NSF CAREER and ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator awards, the UConn Mentorship Excellence award, the UConn School of Engineering Dean’s Excellence award, AIChE Teacher of Year award, and the 2018 Chemical & Biomolecular Department Service award. He was a member of the 2016 Frontier of Engineering Education of the NAE, and was elected as member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.


For Zoom information please contact dei-info@udel.edu



May 8, 2020
9:00 am — 10:00 am