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Valorization of the Organic Fraction of MSW via Hydrothermal Carbonization andFischer-Tropsch Synthesis
Chemical and Materials Engineering
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The ability to impact the world in a positive way through the design of a process is one of the many benefits of an engineering expertise. Through chemical engineering, the world’s greatest problems can be solved with enough detail and big picture views combined to make a better future. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere produced by man contributes to climate change and the detrimental effects on the environment, which directly impacts society itself. One of the largest causes of greenhouse gas production is organic waste in landfills. The organic waste buried under trash with no oxygen in landfills undergoes anaerobic digestion and breaks down into methane gas. To combat excess greenhouse gas production and help reduce mankind’s impact on the environment, a process was designed to convert organic food waste into diesel fuel using three main unit operations: hydrothermal carbonization, gasification, and Fischer Tropsch reaction. With an input feed of 1 metric ton of food waste per hour, about 250 kg of diesel precursors are produced per hour assuming perfect conversion efficiency in the reactors. A full process was designed and simulated on ChemCAD, a full economic analysis was conducted for worst case and best-case scenarios, industry standards were evaluated that applied to the process, detailed hazards were determined for the process operations, and an environmental assessment was performed for all materials used. Through the research and design of this process, companies can start to abide by new environmental laws that prohibit any organic waste from entering landfills. This process was designed entirely with chemical engineering operations and practices from start to finish, showing the broad range of skills that chemical engineers have as well as their advanced problem solving skills.