Meet Process Engineer Namit Tripathi

52/53   in the series Meet the Process Engineers

Welcome to the latest in a series of AIChE blog posts profiling process engineers, a diverse group of professionals spanning multiple industries and regions. In this series, we profile process engineers who work in a wide range of fields, including petrochemicals, pharma, bulk chemicals, food, or any process-intensive industry.

Are you a member and process engineer interested in being profiled? We’d love to hear from you via this volunteer opportunity. Please also check out our online discussion group specifically for process engineers. You can find out about these initiatives and join our efforts by visiting aiche.org/process-engineers.

This month, we introduce you to Namit Tripathi, Process Engineer at Linde Inc. He discusses the path that led to his career in process engineering, overcoming challenges, and the importance of his work. 

Tell us a bit about your work as a process engineer.

I am part of Linde's Process Performance Improvement Team (PPIT) which is tasked with finding process improvement opportunities for all of Linde's existing hydrogen and carbon monoxide production plants across the United States. To be a part of this team, candidates must be an expert in hydrogen and carbon monoxide production technologies such as steam methane reforming, partial oxidation, autothermal reforming, and more.

A major part of my job is to make the plant operations more profitable, safe, and reliable while also reducing their carbon intensity. Because of the dynamic nature of this job, I get to work closely with different departments within Linde such as Operations, Research & Development, Engineering and Business Development.

In addition to my role as part of the Process Performance Improvement Team, I am also a subject matter expert for pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technology. This role requires providing support for all U.S. Linde PSA units. As a PSA technology expert, I have led several PSA process improvement projects, and served as a lead process engineer for commissioning new PSA units at various Linde sites across the United States.

Lastly, I serve as a product manager for a diagnostic tool that Linde has developed and implemented across the U.S. to monitor the life cycle performance of its pressure swing adsorption units.

 Why did you become a process engineer?

I grew up in a middle-class family in India, and most of the people I knew were either computer scientists or worked in the information technology sector. Personally, I was always drawn towards engineering because I always enjoyed physics and chemistry, so when the time came for me to pick a major in college, I decided to give chemical engineering a chance.

I really enjoyed my chemical engineering classes in college as I could apply the concepts I learned in the classroom to my daily life. It also helped me understand the laws of nature and uncover the answers to questions such as: why does water boil?  Why do we feel hot when we are close to fire? Why do I feel lighter in the swimming pool? 

Since all of my questions were being answered by the concepts of chemical engineering, I decided to pursue a career as a chemical engineer. 

The most important thing about my work as a process engineer is that I am contributing directly to the emission control of pollutants and doing my part to make this world a better place for future generations.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your role as a process engineer?

As a process engineer, one usually gets to be a part of a very diverse team which consists of members from different cultures and different academic and professional backgrounds. Because of this, one of the biggest challenges is to maintain a fluid workflow.

Since everyone has different levels of expertise, we all look at the same problem from different viewpoints. It is always a challenge for one to explain their ideas, suggestions, or results to the team in such a way that puts the whole team on the same page with the same understanding. 

As a member of PPIT, I am constantly working on multiple projects at the same time with very strict deadlines. This poses challenges when it comes to  reprioritizing projects based on constantly changing circumstances.

How is your work as a process engineer critical to your particular job assignment or industry?

Chemical engineers not only provide methods to convert abundantly available minerals into consumable goods, but they also do so with as little impact on the environment as possible. 

As hydrogen is being put forth as a new and cleaner fuel, all the world is moving towards developing an infrastructure to facilitate hydrogen as a major source of energy. The reason being that burning hydrogen does not emit any carbon dioxide as compared to other fuels like diesel, gasoline, and methane, etc. Being a process engineer in the hydrogen production industry allows me to directly contribute to the efforts made by the industry to curb carbon dioxide emissions.  

What do you think is most important about what you do as a process engineer?

As a process engineer, I am constantly working on process improvement projects ranging from just operating parameter change to the change in process flowsheet. But the common denominator among all of these projects is that they all lead to reducing the carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions from the operating facilities.

The most important thing about my work as a process engineer is that I am contributing directly to the emission control of pollutants and doing my part to make this world a better place for future generations.

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