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Recent News

Fall 2021


Energy System Group Members Zewei Chen, Yiru Li, Wasiu Peter Oladipupo, Edwin Rodriguez, Gary Sawyer, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Alternative ordering of process hierarchy for more efficient and cost-effective valorization of shale resources” was published in Cell Reports Physical Science.

Energy System Group Undergraduate Researcher Arsh Bhatia received OUR scholarship for 2021-2022 academic year. Congratulations Arsh!


Summer 2021


Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Zewei Chen, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Energy-efficient membrane cascades for industrial separations” was published in Computer Aided Chemical Engineering.

Separations Research Group Members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “A Simple Criterion for Feasibility of Heat Integration between Distillation Streams Based on Relative Volatilities” was published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Separations Research Group Members Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Optimal design of membrane cascades for gaseous and liquid mixtures via MINLP” was published in Journal of Membrane Science.

Separations Research Group member Tony Joseph Mathew successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Tony!

Separations Research Group Members Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Methods to Assess Numerous Distillation Schemes for Binary Mixtures” was published in Chemical Engineering Research and Design.


Spring 2021


Tony Joseph Mathew and Zewei Chen both gave oral presentations at the 2021 AIChE Spring Meeting

Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Dattatray Deshmukh received the Outstanding Research Award 2021 from the College of Engineering. Congratulations, Swapnil!

Separations Research Group Member Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Systematic Analysis Reveals Thermal Separations Are Not Necessarily Most Energy Intensive” was published in Joule.


Fall 2020


Energy Systems Research Group member Zewei Chen received the Bill Murray Fellowship for 2020-21 academic year. Congratulations Zewei!


Separations Research Group members Tony Joseph Mathew, Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty, Prof. Mohit Tawarmalani, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript “Quickly Assess Distillation Columns” was published in Chemical Engineering Progress.


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh won the Second Place Award in the 2020 AIChE Graduate Student Award Competition in the Inorganic Chemistry Area. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Summer 2020


Tony Joseph Mathew received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Energy and Process Intensification & Biotechnology category, and won the Best Overall award, at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, Tony!


David Rokke received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Material Science category at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, David!


Solar Energy Research Group members David Rokke and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Annual AIChE conference are accepted for an oral presentation and two Graduate Student Award Oral Presentations respectively.


Separations Research Group member Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Adrian!


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Separations Research Group Member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty’s manuscript “Misconceptions about Efficiency and Maturity of Distillation” was published in AIChE Journal.


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty is a winner of the 2020 AIChE Separations Division Graduate Student Research Award in the Distillation and Absorption area. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh is a winner of the best student paper award at the 47th IEEE PVSC. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Zewei Chen, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Classification and Comparison of Dividing Walls for Distillation Columns” was published in Processes.


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is interviewed on the Purdue University College of Engineering’s podcast, “Sounds Like the Future” on Episode 08: Advancing Sustainability Across Disciplines. Prof. Agrawal discusses his research and interests centered around sustainability


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh, Kyle Weideman, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Analyzing and Tuning the Chalcogen–Amine–Thiol Complexes for Tailoring of Chalcogenide Syntheses” was published in Inorganic Chemistry


Spring 2020


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis, Jonathan Turnley, David Rokke, Jacob Fields, Essam Alruqobah, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Hybrid Ligand Exchange of Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanopartcles for Carbon Impurity Removal in Solution Processed Photovoltaics” was published in Chemistry of Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Essam AlRuqobah’s and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Potassium Treatments for Solution-Processed Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 Solar Cells” was published in ACS Applied Energy Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Joseph Andler successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Joe!


Solar Energy Research Group members, Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to IEEE’s 2020 PVSC conference were both selected for (now virtual) oral presentations


Solar Energy Research Group member, David Rokke, is accepted to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Hands on Photovoltaic Experience (HOPE) 2020 program, a week long on-site educational program with field experts at NREL


Group member Tony Mathew received the 2020 Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching by the College of Engineering for his teaching assistantship of CHE660: Chemical Reaction Engineering during the Spring 2019 semester


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and alumni Xianyi Hu are co-authors of a newly published book, “Sustainable Photovoltaics,” which is an overview of various research projects that were a part of the SERIIUS funding network


Group members Ryan Ellis, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Zewei Chen all receive $1000 travel grants from the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering for conference travel


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Spring MRS conference are accepted for oral presentations


Fall 2019


Solar Energy Research Group member Ryan Ellis wins first place in the Electronics and Photonic Materials Graduate Student Awards Session at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting for his oral presentation. Congratulations, Ryan!


Prof. Agrawal is an invited panelist for the Meet the Innovators presentation and panel discussion at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Ryan Ellis, Kyle Weideman, Zewei Chen, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Yiru Li, and Peter Oladipupo all give oral presentations at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh,* Ryan Ellis,* David Rokke, Dwi Sutandar and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish a paper titled, “Versatile Colloidal Synthesis of Metal Chalcogenide Nanoparticles from Elemental Precursors using Amine-Thiol Chemistry” in Chemistry of Materials


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is awarded the Phillip C. Wankat Graduate Teaching Award in Chemical Engineering recognizing his achievements as an instructor in graduate-level courses. Congratulations, Prof. Agrawal!


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal writes a “Behind the Paper” blog post for Nature Sustainability describing the motivation behind the recently published paper


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a second blog post on Medium discussing the concept of Aglectric Farming


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a blog post on Medium featuring the NRT team and their research along with the new Nature Sustainability publication


Group alumni Caleb Miskin and current group members Yiru Li, Ryan Ellis, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish, “Sustainable co-production of food and solar power to relax land-use constraints” in Nature Sustainability


Separations

Our Motivation

With rising carbon emissions and increased focus on efficiency, the synthesis and design of energy-efficient separation processes is a major challenge for a practicing engineer. All chemical industries require separation units to meet product quality, to recover harmful chemicals, etc. Quite often for a multicomponent separation, a sequence of separation devices based on distillation, membrane, adsorption, etc. are used. Some examples include crude petroleum distillation, ethylene recovery, and air separation. However, separation in general is an energy intensive process. It is estimated that separation processes account for 40 – 70% of chemical plant costs (Humphrey and Keller, 1997). In addition, for many separations like crude distillation, the energy input is sourced almost entirely from the combustion of fossil fuels; which results in significant contributions to carbon emissions. The energy consumption of such separation processes is heavily dependent on how the separation devices are sequenced or configured. Suboptimal sequences are known to result in energy penalty in excess of 50% (Shah and Agrawal, 2010). Therefore, it is essential to develop easy-to-use methods that will identify optimal separation sequences leading to large energy savings.

Research

Our research is aimed at developing a systematic approach to generate energy-efficient separation schemes for several applications; with the current work using distillation and membranes as our technologies for separation. Rather than focusing on modifying design features such as sizing and number of trays, we work on the broader picture of skeletal structures. The first step is the synthesis of a search space of novel separation schemes (Shah and Agrawal, 2010; Shenvi et. al., 2013; Ramapriya et. al., 2018). After the search space is generated, we build and execute optimization models to identify which among the numerous skeletal structures is energy-efficient and attractive for a desired separation (Nallasivam et al, 2016; Gooty et al, 2019); where the objective can be minimizing energy consumption, exergy loss, or total cost. We work on incorporating various features in our model such as heat integration and impurities, and improving the optimization formulation to be able to converge to global optimality. Our goal is to provide easy-to-use tools for the synthesis of optimal separation process while considering all possible separation unit operations.

Superstructure for multicomponent distillation configurations
Heat integration in distillation can substantially reduce energy consumption
Membrane cascade for liquid separation

 

Recent Publications

Complete list of Separation publications.
Complete list of publications.