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Students simulate turning algae into ethylene

July 4, 2017
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Chemical engineering students recognized with UniSim® Design Challenge award at annual Honeywell customer symposium.

Two students from the Izmir Institute of Technology, who used Honeywell’s simulation software to demonstrate how to produce petrochemicals from algae, have been named the winners of Honeywell Process Solutions’ (HPS) annual UniSim® Design Challenge. They defeated 60 teams from 25 countries. The Turkish chemical engineering students, who won the competition last year with a different project, were recognized during the company’s annual customer symposium held in San Antonio, Texas.

Ozgun Deliismail and Okan Akin, under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr. Erol Seker, used UniSim Design and UniSim Dynamics to create a preliminary conceptual design and simulation of the production of bio-based ethylene from the marine microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata. Ethylene produced from this renewable source can easily replace petrochemical-based ethylene in conventional production processes.

The UniSim Design Challenge allows engineering students to propose solutions to real-world problems facing process manufacturers with Honeywell’s UniSim Design Suite software, which is used to design and model processes in production facilities around the world.

“The interest in renewable petrochemicals continues due to a combination of environmental concerns and economic uncertainties,” said John Roffel, director of Honeywell’s Simulation and Operator Competency product lines. “It is great to see that students around the world find new ways to tackle global challenges.”

Mr. Deliismail and Mr. Akin presented the winning entry during the Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas Symposium, the company’s largest gathering of customers in the process manufacturing industries. Their preliminary design demonstrates the drastically reduced carbon-foot print of the hybrid process by anaerobic digestion and oxidative coupling versus the traditional process of ethylene production. It also shows that bio-ethylene production from bio-methane is profitable.

“To our knowledge, this is the first reported simulation of bio-based ethylene production using the UniSim Design Suite,” said Dr. Seker. “Its user-friendly interface, simplicity and great extensibility provide a great simulation environment to improve the design of the hybrid process.”

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