Engineering Seminar Series 32, 2013: Process Synthesis and Optimization for Centralised Integrated Biorefinery Network

Mr Lee Siu Hoong, Chem Eng postgraduate student

Date: 2013-06-21
Time: 15:00 to 16:00
Venue: Engineering Meeting Room 1, 5-4-22


The chemical industry plays a pivotal role in human lives; responsible for the conversion of raw materials through a series of chemical processes and unit operations into refined products that improve human standard of living. It is common for freshwater, heating/cooling utilities, along with solid waste and wastewater treatment facilities to be encountered throughout the processes. In the past, utilities were purchased from external sources with little consideration for the reuse of water and energy from process streams. Furthermore, energy intensive processes were powered by conventional fuels while solid waste and effluent streams were sent for treatment and discharge without examining the opportunity for material recovery or energy generation.  However, increasing environmental degradation along with uncertainties in future energy securement has called for the industry to take a proactive stand towards pollution mitigation and waste minimization. The emergence of process integration plays a key role in identifying opportunities to improve process efficiency, either through pinch analysis approach or mathematical modelling and optimization. Much development has now been achieved in process integration and mathematical modelling, with focus on multiple-plant optimization. The optimization across multiple industries allows for further material and energy savings through utilities sharing, materials exchange, reuse and regeneration of waste streams. This scenario is commonly referred to as an eco-industrial park (EIP) which often exhibits highly integrated network complexity between the multiple industrial stakeholders. The objective of the current work is to synthesise a centralised integrated biorefinery network (CIBN) for an EIP, which will account for optimal allocation of resources, energy and wastes among all industrial stakeholders. An integrated biorefinery is a processing facility that handles a variety of biomass feedstock to produce biofuel, heat and power. A demonstrative case study by using biomass produced from pulp and paper mill and domestic sewage treatment plant to synthesise the CIBN will be adopted. The CIBN considers two types of biomass conversion technology, through thermochemical pathway (i.e. gasification or combustion) and biochemical pathway (i.e. anaerobic digestion). The synthesised CIBN will receive various types of industrial biomass (i.e. solid waste and wastewater) along with domestic sewage in the form of solid sludge and wastewater. The optimization study is achieved by firstly simulating detailed mass balances of the wastewater treatment process using a commercial biological wastewater treatment software. Later, the optimal allocation of biomass along with the desired conversion technology will be determined through an optimization software.

About the Speaker

Mr Lee Siu Hoong graduated with Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering with Honours) from Monash University Sunway Campus in 2010. He joined Monash University in 2012 to continue his postgraduate studies under the supervision of Dr. Irene Chew Mei Leng. His research focuses on process integration for resource conservation and waste minimization.  His current work is on the synthesis and optimization of a centralized integrated biorefinery network.