(682f) Sustainability Assessment and Targeting in Process Design: A Novel Method Based on Data Envelopment Analysis - Application to Liquid Fuels
Nowadays there is a growing interest on incorporating sustainability metrics in the chemical industry, particularly in the early stages of process design. Unfortunately quantifying and improving the level of sustainability related with chemical processes and products is a very challenging task since it requires balancing the inherent trade-offs between the goals of economic profit, environmental protection and social well-being support. To face this challenge and moving towards a more sustainable chemical engineering, alternative tools and approaches are needed in order to integrate sustainability concepts into the engineering design process. In this work we propose a novel framework that combines data envelopment analysis (DEA) with process system engineering tools which is tailored to help improving the sustainability of chemical processes. Considering a set of chemical processes alternatives characterized by transforming several inputs into several outputs, our framework allows to determine which processes are performing more efficiently in terms of sustainability. It systematically differentiates between efficient and inefficient processes, and for the latter, it provides quantitative targets for improvement that, if achieved, would make them more sustainable. Besides identifying those targets, our framework also determines the optimal design and operating conditions of the inefficient processes to reach the desired targets and therefore guaranteeing the feasibility of the alternative in practice. The capabilities of the proposed approach are illustrated through a real case study involving six transportation liquid fuels employed in the automotive fleet that are powered by internal combustion engines. The results provide the optimal operating conditions for the methanol process that would allow reducing its cost and global warming potential to a certain extent making it more sustainable. Our approach is intended to support decision makers towards a more sustainable chemical process design.