UFRJ H2CIN

Laboratory of Hydrorefining, Process Engineering and
Applied Thermodynamics from the School of Chemistry of UFRJ

Projects

Pilot Plant of CO2 Chemical Absorption from Natural Gas (2011-2014)

Description: This Project covers the Carrying out of Experiments in a Pilot Plant of Amines, Associated Theoretical Studies and Development of Models on Removal Technologies of CO2 and other contaminants from natural gas in the context of its primary processing, always following a rigorous thermodynamically approach and keeping in mind the actions of Petrobras on the Pre-salt layer fields.

Specific Objectives: The Project shall answer to technological challenges in the removal of CO2 and other contaminants from natural gas at Pre-salt layers, on approaches that involve mathematical modelling experiments and developments, encompassing the following specific objectives:

Pilot Plant for MEG Recovery (2011-2014)

Description: The Project covers the Development of MEG Recovery Technology at offshore platforms from the Pilot Plant operation for MEG recovery. The main goal of this unit is to investigate the chemical and technical functional aspects of vacuum technology for the removal of salts from aqueous MEG solutions.

Specific Objectives: The Project shall answer to technological challenges directly associated to flow assurance at offshore gas fields, specifically related to MEG Recovery, with the following experimental objectives:

  1. Study of the precipitation of the main component salts of the formation water (NaCl, Carbonates and Sulphates), in the presence of MEG and on the conditions of the following equipment: Low pressure separator, Cartridge Filter, Vacuum Evaporator and Heat Exchanger.
  2. Determination of solubility constants of salts in the presence of MEG at different temperatures.
  3. Study of the complex formation with MEG and bivalent salts, which affect the viscosity in the vacuum evaporator.
  4. Effect of the presence of chemical additives on the salt precipitation. Chemical products (corrosion inhibitor, scale inhibitor and pH stabilizers) added to the gas production process, from the well to the platform, influence the salt precipitation.
  5. Effect of the oxygen contamination in the plant, regarding iron oxidation and MEG degradation.

Simulation and Control of Oil and Natural Gas Production Processes (2011-2014)

Description: Development of theoretical and experimental studies on oil and natural gas production technologies, mainly on primary processing of natural gas containing CO2 and other contaminants; always on a thermodynamic-compositional context regarding the actions of Petrobras on the Pre-salt layer fields.

Specific Objectives: The Project shall answer to technological challenges directly associated to the Oil-Gas exploration at Pre-salt layer fields, on approaches involving supersonic separators for natural gas processing, dynamic scenario analysis and mathematical modelling developments, encompassing the following specific objectives:

  1. Development of Unisim Design/Hysys Modules for the Simulation of Separation Flow Charts of CO2 and other Contaminants from Natural Gas. The Laboratory H2CIN from the School of Chemistry of UFRJ has developed phenomenological models for the simulation and optimization of separation processes of CO2 and other contaminants from natural gas, dealing with operations (modelled on a MATLAB environment) involving amine absorption and differential membrane permeation. For this research line, it is suggested:
    1. Development of version (or interface) of the models from the Laboratory H2CIN for CO2 removal operations from natural gas through membrane permeation and/or contactors on HYSYS/UNISIM Design environment.
    2. Development of version (or interface) of the models from the Laboratory H2CIN for removal operations of CO2 and other contaminants from natural gas through column absorption with aqueous ethanolamine solutions on HYSYS/UNISIM Design environment.
  2. Simulation of Dynamic Scenarios in the Primary Processing. In this research line, the compression of natural gas and CO2-rich streams, the natural gas and oil conditioning on the Pre-salt layer context are approached in an integrated manner. On the approach, dynamic scenarios are assessed involving start-up and stop procedures. The objective of the assessment is to diagnose the operational flexibility and the performance.

CO2 Removal from Exhaust Gases (2011-2014)

Description: Conduction of Experiments of CO2 capture from Exhaust Gases at an Amine Pilot Plant, Associated Theoretical Studies and Model Development on Removal of CO2 and other pollutants from Exhaust Gases.

Specific Objectives: The Project shall answer to technological challenges on the removal of CO2 and other pollutants from exhaust gases with approaches involving experiments, mathematical modelling developments and process flowchart simulation, encompassing the following specific objectives:

  1. Modelling of Separation Technologies of CO2 and other Pollutants present in Exhaust Gases. The Laboratory H2CIN from the School of Chemistry of UFRJ has been developing phenomenological models for the simulation and optimization of separation processes of CO2 and other contaminants from natural gas, dealing with operations (modelled on a MATLAB environment) involving amine absorption, gas-gas membrane permeation (hollow fiber and spiral wound) and gas-liquid membrane contactors. In this research line, the expansion of the SCA-2013 Simulator of capture flowcharts of acid gases (CO2 and H2S) is proposed, based on the extension of the data base with experimental results of the Pilot Plant operating with exhaust gases and with data from the Pilot Plant of the University of Regina.
  2. Pilot Plant of CO2 Capture from Exhaust Gases through Absorption with Aqueous Ethanolamine Solutions at the CEGN/E&P - Technological Park of Ilha do Fundão. Plan experiments and operate a Pilot Plant of CO2 Capture from Exhaust Gases through Absorption with Aqueous Ethanolamine Solutions, with statistical data treatment and model calibration of CO2 absorption with data obtained from the CO2 Capture Pilot Plant, which is fed with gases generated by the diesel oil burning in a thermal fluid heater used, in its turn, in the Pilot Plant itself to supply heat at the solvent regeneration step.
  3. Data Analysis of the Pilot Plant of Regina (Canada). Computational treatment.

Green Process Engineering (2011-2012)

Description: The consumption of oil, coal and natural gas supplies more than ¾ of the society's energy needs. The demand increase is unavoidably followed by the depletion of reserves, motivating the search for energy sustainable sources and organic carbon. In this context, the biomass has a potential for use as an energy and organic carbon source to supply industrial needs.

The production of biomass energy may reduce greenhouse gas emissions when compared to the combustion of fossil sources. It is frequently repeated in the literature that the CO2 emitted by combustion is captured from the atmosphere by the biomass photosynthesis. However, it is obviously a simplistic affirmative, as it neglects the energetic demand in the product life cycle, which is frequently based on the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, the development of green processes requires process engineering applied to green chemistry in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and minimize potential environmental impacts.

This project applies traditional procedures of process engineering to environmental impact metrics on the development of green processes to meet the Braskem demand on innovation of sustainable productive processes. With this goal, the proposal consolidates the methodology of green process development and of environmental and economic process performance assessment. The methodology is initially applied to two immediate demands of Braskem.

Isochrysis galbana Performance in Oil Production and CO2 Capture with a Pilot Photobioreactor

Description: The aim of the project is to produce algae biomass at pilot scale and outdoors. The selection of the Isochrysis galbana microalgae has already been carried out through a Screening methodology, developed by the group, and has considered its potential for biomass production, the carbon content and the potential on lipid productivity.

Preliminary tests in a bench reactor have proved the I. galbana potential on CO2 use, biomass production and lipid productivity. A 700-L tubular photobioreactor has been designed with dimensions and fluid dynamics. The expected productivity for the pilot plant is 0.214 g/Ld for a steady-state cell concentration of 3 g/L and specific growth rate equal to 1 d-1.

The main aspects addressed are:

The objective of the experimental research activities will be to obtain technical indices for process synthesis (e.g., microbial kinetics, chemical kinetics, biochemical biomass composition, alternatives for downstream processing and associated yields).

The mathematical modelling will allow extending the experimental results for a context of process engineering and optimization. In summary, the proposal aims at cultivating the I. galbana microalgae at pilot scale, producing oil (raw material for biodiesel) and high-value products (e.g., polyunsaturated fatty acids).

Process Engineering for CO2 Reuse: Production of microalgal-derived biofuels (2010-2012)

Description: The use of renewable sources for the production of chemical products and fuels is presented as a solution to contemporary environmental problems. Microalgae present a photosynthetic efficiency much higher than plants and the productivity highly exceeds the productivity of the best oleaginous plantations. The data clearly support the conclusion that microalgae are the only renewable biofuel source able to meet the global demand for transportation fuel.

Regarding the economic aspects of biofuel production, besides the high productivity of microalgae biomass when compared to oleaginous plants, it presents the possibility, through the proper choice of strains, to produce a broad range of bioproducts.

This Project addresses the CO2 capture from industrial exhaust gases, its transport through ducts, its bio-fixation by microalgae and the use of the resulting biomass in the production of bioproducts, and, through carbonation, in the production of synthesis gas, precursor of synthetic biofuels. Thus, the full biomass use (including residual fractions of biomass) is conceived on the production of bioproducts and biofuels, in a CO2 refinery conception (CO2 to Liquids).

In the context of growing environmental restrictions, rise of oil barrel price, industrial solutions are sought, such as Eco-industrial Parks, which close the industrial activity cycle: An Industrial Ecology strategy is both an action context and a research field. The project addresses the microalgae screening with industrial potential and the economic and environmental analysis of the biomass use in an industrial-ecological system for the production of biodiesel and synthetic biofuels. Specifically, due to the strong concern with the climatic effects resulting from the buildup of greenhouse gases, the aim is to contribute to the environmental remediation with the capture of CO2 emitted by industrial processes.

Microalgae: Optimization of the Crop Conditions for Lipid Production (2010-2012)

Description: The use of renewable sources for the production of chemical products and fuels is presented as a solution to contemporary environmental problems. In this context the microalgae, which present photosynthetic efficiency much higher than superior vegetables, with productivities highly exceeding those of the best oleaginous plantations, are noted as the only renewable biofuel source able to meet the global demand for transportation fuel.

Regarding the economic aspects of biofuel production, the microalgae biomass presents, through the proper choice of strains, the possibility to produce a broad range of bioproducts.

This Project includes experiments at laboratory scale for the definition of Isochrisys galbana crop conditions for the photobioreactor operation, at semi-pilot scale, built at the Laboratory H2CIN of EQ (School of Chemistry)/UFRJ. The main aspects addressed are: microalgae growth (growing conditions to maximize lipid content) and biostimulation technique through the application of electrical potential to the crop.

Microalgae biodiesel: Harvesting and Downstream Processing (2010-2012)

Description: The main aspects addressed are:

The fully integrated approach of this proposal includes the zero-residue concept for pollution prevention. The idea allows access to the mass and energy integration, in a concept of industrial ecology for greater sustainability from various methods. The objective of the experimental research activities will be to obtain technical indices for process synthesis (e.g., microbial kinetics, chemical kinetics, biochemical biomass composition, alternatives for downstream processing and associated yields). The mathematical modelling and process flowchart simulation will allow extending the experimental results for a context of optimized process engineering. The Lyfe Cycle Assessment (LCA) together with the Technical-Economic Study will allow the assessment of each process as well as of the integrated technologies, employing well-defined sustainability metrics. In summary, the proposal aims at developing production processes of microalgae, biofuels (biofuel precursors - bio-syngas) and high-value products (antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, etc.) from microalgae biomass, as coproducts for a greater economic benefit.

Technical Cooperation Agreement TWISTER - EQ (2010-2012)

Description: Cooperation between the Laboratory H2CIN of the School of Chemistry and TWISTER BV from Netherlands regarding simulations of conventional processes of natural gas processing and of supersonic separator (TWISTER).

Process Development for CO2 Emission Reduction and Biofuel Production (2008-2012)

Description: The CO2 emission due to human activities has involved alterations in the Earth atmosphere composition associated to important climatic changes. This disequilibrium on the climate may be considerably worse in the future if important immediate measures are not taken to try to reduce its effects.

Biological systems for CO2 use involve the photosynthetic process and the subsequent conversion of the produced biomass into fuels that can replace fossil fuels. Microalgae constitute one of the most efficient biological systems of solar energy conversion into organic compounds through the photosynthetic process. Moreover, they have a huge potential of biotechnology utilization, both as a food source, as a reservoir of a wide range of chemical compounds of interest, and as biomass for energy production.

Many species can be induced, through programmed stresses, to increase the production of high-value commercial compounds, such as proteins, polysaccharides, lipids and pigments. Additionally, they grow in an aqueous suspension allowing a more efficient access to water, CO2 and other nutrients, and can also use brackish water (improper for domestic, industrial or agricultural uses). The fact that, in general, the reproduction of these microorganisms occurs through a simple binary division enables a cellular cycle to be completed in few hours, resulting in a relatively fast growth speed and making both the genetic selection and strain processes relatively simple and fast.

Due to these reasons, microalgae present a high productivity potential associated to the easy biomass conversion into gaseous and liquid fuels. However, the industrial-scale use of this process requires the solution of various technological challenges on the several involved steps.

Modelling of Natural Gas Purification Processes with Combined Membrane Technologies (2007-present)

Description: This project aims at developing Simulation Programs and Project of Natural Gas Purification Processes with Combined Membrane Permeation Technologies. The 3 following developments are mentioned:

The Exploration and Production Sector of Petrobras is completely interested in the Project and is the corporation that is financing the Project.

Microalgae in Closed Photobioreactors: Synergy between CO2 Sequestration and Production (2006-present)

Description: The project addresses the reduction of CO2 present in thermoelectric emissions, by microalgae, in crop conditions that promote lipid buildup with the purpose of biodiesel production. Specifically, photobioreactors will be used as an alternative to algae crop ponds.

Technical-Scientific Cooperation Braskem-FUJB-EQ/UFRJ (2006-present)

Description: Agreement on Technical-Scientific Cooperation Braskem-FUJB-School of Chemistry of UFRJ.

Objective: The Project involves multidirectional efforts on consultancy, research and development so as to enable the technical-scientific cooperation actions between professors from the School of Chemistry of UFRJ and Braskem S.A. focusing on Process Development, Process Engineering and Optimization, Pyrolysis Gasoline Hydrorefining and Pipe Engineering.

The cooperation contexts that may be carried out are:

  1. Assistance
  2. Consultancy
  3. Technical Support
  4. Technological Support
  5. Technological Development

Green Chemistry and Biotechnology on the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation (2005-2008)

Description: The research line developed by the group of EQ/UFRJ addresses the mitigation of CO2 emissions with a Green Chemistry approach:

  1. Develop synergy between CO2 emission process and CO2 sequestration process. The objective of this project is to address, as an environmental remediation agent, the high reactivity of ethylene oxide, process responsible for 1% of CO2 emitted to atmosphere, for the chemical capture of CO2. The resulting product is ethylene carbonate, changing the traditional production route involving phosgene, an environmentally harmful product;
  2. Develop "special amines" and ethanolamine mixtures which are more efficient on the CO2 capture, definitive step in the economical feasibility of mitigation of its emission by companies in several industrial segments. Amine recovery is an energy-intensive step and the process energetic efficiency reduces the burning of fossil fuel, indirectly mitigating CO2 emissions.
  3. Investigate the CO2 biocapture with Dunaliella salina, with coproduction of β-carotene. Carrying out experiments in a photobioreactor will support the development of a kinetic model of cell growth, CO2 consumption and product formation, for the process project.

Modelling and Optimization of Hydrocracking Processes of Heavy Oil Fractions (2005-present)

Description: The growing world competition in the Petroleum Sector, together with the growing offer of heavy crude oils, induces the selective survival of specific technologies for the processing of this class of raw-material, operating under constant observance of targets near to the economic optimum and large scales. Consequently, the space for the adoption of improvised processing solutions, such as "blending" as previously mentioned, is fast reduced.

In addition, there is the global and increasingly demanding character of environmental legislations regarding the atmospheric emission of carbon (CO2), sulphur (H2S, SOx) and nitrogen (NOx). Therefore, such emissions tend to be more impressive in the industrial scenario of Heavy Oils and in the consumption of their derivatives.

For these reasons, specific technologies for the process of this crude type shall consider additional means of reducing the generation of these agents throughout the derivative production and consumption chain. As a result of this, there are few alternatives to Petrobras and to the Country, besides concentrating efforts to develop, in a near future, safe, environmentally correct and economical technologies to refine huge amounts of Heavy Oil. On the other hand, the economy of this large-scale processing depends on many technological factors still in conception or in development, among those we highlight:

  1. Improving the Heavy Oil refining yield in light products, characterized by high hydrogen/carbon ratio, low content of polyaromatic species and very low content of sulphurated and nitrogenated species.
  2. Economic/technological improvement of hydrogen production processes from Heavy Oil fractions.

This Project formalizes a proposal to approach a research theme directly included in the context of the points mentioned above.

Studies on Hydrocracking of Heavy Oil Fractions (2004-present)

Description: The project addresses the building of a hydrocracking unit of heavy oil fractions for carrying out HCC runs of oil fractions with the purpose of developing a kinetic modelling. The kinetic model will be included in a process flowchart aiming at optimizing project and operation conditions.

Development of CO2 Capture and Sequestration Technology (2003-2005)

Description: The project intends to approach the emission reduction that will contribute to the environmentally acceptable energy supply at competitive prices. Specifically, the project aims at developing new technologies for the reduction of CO2 capture and sequestration costs. These technologies will be applicable to a great number of CO2 sources such as oil refineries, power plants, thermal power plants and other industrial processes. Employing these technologies will reduce the impact of the use of fossil fuels while alternative energy sources are developed.

Development of Oil Fraction Hydrorefining Models (2002-2005)

Description: Modelling, simulation and optimization development applied to Hydrorefining Processes such as Hydrotreatment (HDT) of Medium Distillates and Naphthenic Distillates, including:

  1. Model Development using Neural Networks for Medium Distillate Hydrotreatment (HDT) and
  2. Compositional and Kinetic Parameter Estimation for the Naphthenic Distillate HDT Simulator.

Use of Perfluorocarbons in the Aeration of Yarrovia lypolitica Cultures for Bioprocess Development and Lipase Production (2002-2005)

Description: International cooperation project between the School of Chemistry of UFRJ and the University of Aveiro involving competences in chemical engineering, biotechnology and physical chemistry.

Analysis Methodology Development Applied to Refinery Waste Treatment Systems (2001-2002)

Description: Development of analytical methodologies applied to the biological removal process of nitrogen from refinery wastes with the purpose of raising the productivity. The analyses carried out offline were assessed in relation to the feasibility of modifications that enabled its application on line.

Development of Systems for Dynamic Simulation, Leakage Detection and Duct Operational Optimization (2001-2002)

Description: Development of a computational tool to locate and quantify leakages in ducts operating with compressible fluid. Flow modelling is used on the flow network operational optimization.

Bioprocess Monitoring and Modelling using Digital Processing (2001-2002)

Description: Use of tools and techniques of digital image processing to characterize cell growth, especially yeasts. The impact of the process conditions on the morphological characteristics of the population has been investigated.

Kinetic Checking, Modelling and Optimization of Hydrogenation Process of Pyrolysis Gasoline Cuts (2001-2002)

Description: Collection of experimental data obtained at a bench-scale plant of pyrolyis gasoline hydrotreatment. The data are used in the development and validation of a kinetic model involving a hydrogenation reaction network. The derived model is used in an optimization algorithm to maximize the process profitability, meeting quality specifications of the final product.

Bioprocess Modelling, Monitoring and Control: Biological Nutrient Removal and Bioelectrochemical Process (2000-2002)

Description: Process development of joint biological removal of phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon with the purpose of collecting data to support the process modelling for optimization purposes. At the same time, models of population balances were employed to describe population phenomena associated to the microbial growth. The influence of electric field application on the yeast cell cycle has been investigated.

Biological Removal of Nutrients from Refinery Wastes at Sequential Batch Reactors (2000-2002)

Description: Optimize the sequencing of operational phases of a sequential batch reactor (fully instrumented bench-scale plant). The project has involved the kinetic modelling development (nitrification, denitrification, dearomatization) and the use of the model derived from an optimization algorithm to maximize process profitability.

Leakage Detection System at Compressible Flow Networks (2000-present)

Description: Use of Process Identification techniques to develop a tool for detection, location and quantification of leakages in ducts operating with compressible fluids.

Hydrorefining Process Mathematical Simulator (2000-present)

Description: Use of data base on diesel hydrorefining from Cenpes/Petrobras to develop a mathematical simulator for project and optimization purposes of HDT plants.

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