Toward Systematic Design of Sustainable Separation Processes

Organizers: Robert Giraud, Senior Principal Consultant, The Chemours Company; Kirti M. Yenkie, Assistant Professor, Rowan University

Separations lie at the very heart of chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. Distillation has been the technology of choice for these separations because it is a well-understood, reliable, predictable method that works. However, industrial reliance on distillation comes at a great cost because use of this technology accounts for over 50% of the capital investment of chemical processes and over 10% of global energy consumption. Furthermore, in the absence of more cost-effective and more sustainable practical separation processes, used solvents and other valuable materials are often incinerated rather than recovered. Accelerating the industrial application of sustainable separation processes as alternatives to distillation requires the widespread availability of next generation process selection, evaluation, simulation, and design tools for alternative separation (ALTSEP) processes that make use of mass separating agents (e.g., adsorbents, membranes) in whole or in part (i.e., hybrid separations). Recent findings suggest new techniques and tools are being developed.

Presentations in this symposium will highlight recent developments in selection, evaluation, simulation, and design for energy-efficient ALTSEP processes to help green chemists and engineers see what they can leverage today. Examples of target presentation topics for this symposium include:

  • Techno-economic analysis for sustainable separation process design,
  • LCA-based selection of solvent recovery options,
  • Evaluation metrics for rapid screening of mass separating agent materials,
  • Heuristics for selection and design of mass separating agent based processes,
  • Systems design of mass separating agent based processes,
  • Conceptual design of hybrid separation processes,
  • Process simulation and/or optimization of mass separating agent based processes, and
  • Factors in de-risking industrial adoption of mass separating agent based processes.

Presenters are asked to also identify where further progress is needed to enable broad availability of process selection, evaluation, simulation, and design tools for predictable scale-up and operation of ALTSEP processes to facilitate widespread deployment of sustainable separation processes.