(397f) Utilizing Fossil Fuels Effectively: Applying the Attainable Chemical Processes (ACP) Approach

Authors: 
Patel, B., University of the Witwatersrand
Hildebrandt, D., University of the Witwatersrand
Glasser, D., University of the Witwatersrand


As the world demand for energy increases there are also tremendous pressures to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. This presents significant challenges and opportunities for chemical engineers and chemists. Effectively unlocking the chemical potential stored in chemicals means using and transforming energy effectively and this translate to processes that produce less CO2. We need to consider the chemical routes, work and heat flows to develop more efficient processes. We also have to consider that processes may become both chemical and electricity suppliers in order that all the energy stored in the feedstock is effectively used. Recent advances in process design are being applied to both chemical and energy production from fossil fuels in order to develop targets for these systems and thus point to paths with lower carbon footprints (Patel et al, 2005 and 2007). These look at trying to assess what would happen if we were able to operate the plant as efficiently as theoretically possible In order to get values for these targets a new approach to chemical process synthesis has been developed. We define the set of Attainable Chemical Process (ACP) which represents all mass balances such that ÄH and ÄG are both less than or equal to zero. The ÄH represents the required energy for the process whereas the ÄG represents the chemical potential of the process. We can thus apply these techniques to fossil fuel based processes (both power and chemical production) in order to determine the potential of fossil fuels and whether the efficiency of current processes can be improved significantly.