Introduction

  • In my first career episode, I would like to elaborate the project that I participated in while I was the final year student at UNIVERSITY OF ENGINEERING &TECHNOLOGY, LAHORE, PAKISTAN.I was studying an undergraduate degree in BSc Chemical Engineering and my final year project was an investigation of the production of the synthetic gas from coal through the process of de-volatization followed by the gasification. Gasification happens when the feedstock undergoes the thermo-chemical process to change the carbonaceous materials into a combustible gas by using partial oxidation with oxygen. I did the project for the two semesters between August 2009 and August 2010. The University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore is situated in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.

Background

  • The University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, was established in 1921, and it is public research university that is situated in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. It has seven faculties namely; Faculty of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Humanities & Islamic Studies, Faculty of Architecture & Planning, Faculty of Earth Sciences & Engineering and Faculty of Chemical, Metallurgical & Polymer Engineering. Department of Chemical Engineering where I was is at the Faculty of Chemical, Metallurgical & Polymer Engineering. It is ranked top three universities Engineering and Technology by HEC in Pakistan. Lastly, the university offers undergraduate and postgraduates studies in the disciplines of law, philosophy, engineering, natural and social sciences and business management.
  • The primary objectives of this project were to investigate the production of the synthetic gas or syngas from coal through the process of gasification in the gasifier vessel. This was my final year project, and I was to prove through this research that I was able to come up with the proposal on the production of the synthetic gas from the coal. Another objective was to simulate the process using the Aspen software to study the production of the gas. The key performance indicator of this process included coming up with reaction equation that takes places during gasification and during the de-volatization process to produce char.
  • Below is the organization structure that I used in my final year project and shows me as the student

Figure 1 – CE-1 Reporting structure during the gasification project.

  • The following were my responsibilities during the execution of this project
  • Investigation of the Gasification process that adds value to negative value feedstock (coal) by converting it to synthetic gasses or the marketable fuel
  • Investigation the process of converting a carbonaceous feedstock into a gaseous product with a useful chemical heating value
  • I was responsible for the simulation of the process of the production of the synthetic gasses from coal in the gasification process.
  • I was also investigating the possibility of using the gasification process to minimize the amount of solid waste requiring landfill disposal by using them to produce synthetic gas that can be utilized as the fuel.
  • Preparation of the research proposal documentation and presenting it to the faculty panel

Personal Engineering Activity

  • I did research on the best topic that I was interested in and after finding the gasification of the coal; I convinced one of my classmates to join me. We then went to the supervisor after exhausting all the needs of the project, and we discussed and did some modification as per his recommendations. We started the project after one week of collecting all the required information.
  • The first process that I was working on was the de-volatilization whereby the temperature in the dry feed stock is increased hence the pyrolysis process takes place, and the feedstock is changed to char. The chemical reaction that takes places is as follows

CDR Sample for Chemical Engineers Australia

The volatiles that were produced include;

H2O, H2, N2, O2, CO2, CO, CH4, H2S, NH3, C2H6, depending on the contents of the feedstock and unsaturated hydrocarbons like aromatics, olefins, and acetylenes. Char is the solids that consist of the inorganic and organic materials. After the pyrolysis process, the char produced has carbon with high concentration as compared with the dry feed stock (coal).

  • The challenge in the de-volatilization process was the approximation of the amount of the char that was useful in the process of gasification because of the various properties of the feedstock being used. This challenge was solved by doing a test on the different samples of the Coal that represented individual batch, therefore, used after that to predict the final char.
  • In this project, the de-volatilization or the pyrolysis process took place between 200-300 °C. Where the volatiles were released, and there was also the production of char .Thus, the weight loss was 70% of the coal used. This meant that for every 100% feedstock, the only useful char is 30%.The products of the depolarization also depended on the properties of the feedstock because it determines the composition of the char that is taken to the gasification reactions.
  • The second process that I was investigation was the gasification process that involves the reaction between the char and steam, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen in the gasifier vessel. Furthermore, it involves the reaction between the gasses produced. The reaction process produces hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. For the reaction to take place the temperature from heat is maintained at less than 700 °C without any combustion whereby the amount of oxygen is controlled
  • The challenge that I faced in the gasification process was the control of the amount of oxygen used and the heating temperature, this is because the use of excess oxygen could cause the full combustion. Another challenge that was noted during this process is the capital cost of the gasification plants or process. We did the research on the new technology that can decrease capital costs of gasification systems and plant supporting systems therefore some proposals were made and are still under discussion.
  • The reaction that took place during the Gasification process is shown below where the final reaction leads to the production of the mixture of gasses called syngas or the synthetic gas.

Depending on the gasification process conditions, the remaining char may or may not have a significant amount of organic content or heating value. The calculation that I did in this process was the approximation of the syngas or the synthetic gas produced during the process of the gasification. This amount is mostly dependent on the amount of products that is input into the gasifier.

  • To improve my study on the gas production during gasification, I used Aspen Plus® simulation software whereby I was able to explore and approximate the gas production in the gasifier vessel. The steady state production of the synthetic gas/ syngas production from char were visible. Aspen Plus® simulation software was also used to conduct the sensitivity analyses in the O2 to coal mass ratio, coal slurry concentration, WGS operating temperature and WGS steam to dry gas molar ratio (SDG) over the key parameters
  • I did the research in the library on the gasification of coal by reading chemical engineering journals. Furthermore, I did internet research whereby I when to various websites where I was able to learn various methods of gasification and de-volatization in the production of the synthetic gasses. The research enabled me to learn various types of gasification vessels that I learned there advantages and disadvantages. I also learned through research the best methods of during simulation using Aspen Plus® simulation. Lastly, I had a regular meeting between me and my colleague who we were doing the research to brainstorm the research project.
  • In did this project as per International Standard Test Methods ASTM D5373 – 14e2 use to determine the Carbon, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen in Analysis Samples of carbon and Coal in Analysis of Coke and Coal. Another standard that I observed during this research was the NFPA 120 code that gives the minimum requirements needed for such research to minimize the loss of property and life from the explosion and fire in coal production plants. It also gives the requirements for the facilities and building associated with coal preparation and mining.
  • As a way of protecting the environment, the waste produced by the gasification and de-volatilization process was treated before discharging them into the environment. Other by-products from the process like clinker were reused in another process instead of releasing them into the environment. Lastly, I recommended the improvement of the equipment used that is more efficient.
  • I worked with my colleague who was also in the final year of his studies to carry out this research, and we constantly had a consultation meeting with our supervisor for the advice on the format of the research and best method of execution. We did not have any subordinates who were assisting us apart from the laboratory technician who helped us in setting the reaction equipment. We worked as a team hence no one was junior or senior to another one. I regularly had meeting and discussion with my colleagues and supervisor, and when the time was ready, we made the reports and documentation before doing the presentation in front of the panel. I did presentation with the help of the PowerPoint slides that I had made to project our work for the panel to see
  • The technique that I introduced in this research was the use of simulation software, unlike before where the research was doing the real reaction of the Coal to produce the synthetic gas in the laboratory. This technique was time-saving, and I was able to do the investigation that could not have been possible without the real reaction in the vessel that can be dangerous be fire explosion if things go wrong.
  • The economical decision that I made on my research project was when I was investigating the behavior of reaction of char in the gasification process. I decided to minimize the reaction by using the simulation software called ASPEN whereby I was able to check the behavior without undertaking the reaction process. These saved both time and money since it quicker and cheaper way of studying the gasification process.
  • This project gave me experience in the production of the synthetic gasses from the coal or other biomass in the process called gasification. I was also able to learn the safety precautions that are common in any chemical reaction. Besides the research project was done and completed on time within the budget, and we present it to the panel, and everyone was satisfied.

Summary

  • This project was enjoyable despite few challenges that I encountered, and I was able to able all my engineering skills that I had learned in class. The teamwork that we had help us to finish this project on time and everyone was happy with our project. I was able to analyze the reaction in both the re-volatization and gasification process that was paramount for the success of this project. CDR-Sample-for-Chemical-Engineer