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Volume 4 • Issue 3 • June 2018 • Pages 299 -430
News & Highlights
Views & Comments
Topic Insights
    • [Online] Green Industrial Processes
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News & Highlights
Falcon Heavy
Lance A. Davis
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 300 .
Abstract   PDF (418KB)
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Topic Insights
Surface-Driven High-Pressure Processing
Keith E. Gubbins, Kai Gu, Liangliang Huang, Yun Long, J. Matthew Mansell, Erik E. Santiso, Kaihang Shi, Małgorzata Ś liwińska-Bartkowiak, Deepti Srivastava
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 311 -320 .
Abstract   PDF (1484KB)

The application of high pressure favors many chemical processes, providing higher yields or improved rates in chemical reactions and improved solvent power in separation processes, and allowing activation barriers to be overcome through the increase in molecular energy and molecular collision rates. High pressures—up to millions of bars using diamond anvil cells—can be achieved in the laboratory, and lead to many new routes for chemical synthesis and the synthesis of new materials with desirable thermodynamic, transport, and electronic properties. On the industrial scale, however, high-pressure processing is currently limited by the cost of compression and by materials limitations, so that few industrial processes are carried out at pressures above 25 MPa. An alternative approach to high-pressure processing is proposed here, in which very high local pressures are generated using the surface-driven interactions from a solid substrate. Recent experiments and molecular simulations show that such interactions can lead to local pressures as high as tens of thousands of bars (1 bar= 1 _ 105 Pa), and even millions of bars in some cases. Since the active high-pressure processing zone is inhomogeneous, the pressure is different in different directions. In many cases, it is the pressure in the direction parallel to the surface of the substrate (the tangential pressure) that is most greatly enhanced. This pressure is exerted on the molecules to be processed, but not on the solid substrate or the containing vessel. Current knowledge of such pressure enhancement is reviewed, and the possibility of an alternative route to high-pressure processing based on surface-driven forces is discussed. Such surface-driven high-pressure processing would have the advantage of achieving much higher pressures than are possible with traditional bulk-phase processing, since it eliminates the need for mechanical compression. Moreover, no increased pressure is exerted on the containing vessel for the process, thus eliminating concerns about materials failure.

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A Perspective on Rheological Studies of Gas Hydrate Slurry Properties
Ahmad A.A. Majid, David T. Wu, Carolyn A. Koh
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 321 -329 .
Abstract   PDF (1144KB)

Gas hydrates are solid inclusion compounds that are composed of a three-dimensional hydrogen-bonded network of water cages that can trap small gas molecules, such as methane and carbon dioxide. Understanding the rheological properties of gas hydrate crystals in solution can be critical in a number of energy applications, including the transportation of natural gas in subsea and onshore operations, as well as technological applications for gas separation, desalination, or sequestration. A number of experimental and modeling studies have been done on hydrate slurry rheology; however, the link between theory and experiment is not well-defined. This article provides a review on the current state of the art of hydrate slurry viscosity measurements from high- and low-pressure rheometer studies and high-pressure flowloops over a range of different sub-cooling (ΔTsub=TequilTexp) and fluid conditions, including for water and oil continuous systems. The theoretical models that have been developed to describe the gas hydrate slurry relative viscosity are also reviewed. Perspectives’ linkage between the experiments and theory is also discussed.

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Modularized Production of Value-Added Products and Fuels from Distributed Waste Carbon-Rich Feedstocks
Robert S. Weber, Johnathan E. Holladay
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 330 -335 .
Abstract   PDF (1275KB)

We have adapted and characterized electrolysis reactors to complement the conversion of regional- and community-scale quantities of waste into fuel or chemicals. The overall process must be able to contend with a wide range of feedstocks, must be inherently safe, and should not rely on external facilities for co-reactants or heat rejection and supply. Our current approach is based on the upgrading of bio-oil produced by the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of carbon-containing waste feedstocks. HTL can convert a variety of feedstocks into a bio-oil that requires much less upgrading than the products of other ways of deconstructing biomass. We are now investigating the use of electrochemical processes for the further conversions needed to transform the bio-oil from HTL into fuel or higher value chemicals. We, and others, have shown that electrochemical reduction can offer adequate reaction rates and at least some of the necessary generality. In addition, an electrochemical reactor necessarily both oxidizes (removes electrons) on one side of the reactor and reduces (adds electrons) on the other side. Therefore, the two types of reactions could, in principle, be coupled to upgrade the bio-oil and simultaneously polish the water that is employed as a reactant and a carrier in the upstream HTL. Here, we overview a notional process, the possible conversion chemistry, and the economics of an HTL-electrochemical process.

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Carbon Sequestration through CO2 Foam-Enhanced Oil Recovery: A Green Chemistry Perspective
Jennifer A. Clark, Erik E. Santiso
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 336 -342 .
Abstract   PDF (1170KB)

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) via carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding has received a considerable amount of attention as an economically feasible method for carbon sequestration, with many recent studies focusing on developing enhanced CO2 foaming additives. However, the potential long-term environmental effects of these additives in the event of leakage are poorly understood and, given the amount of additives injected in a typical CO2 EOR operation, could be far-reaching. This paper presents a summary of recent developments in surfactant and surfactant/nanoparticle-based CO2 foaming systems, with an emphasis on the possible environmental impacts of CO2 foam leakage. Most of the surfactants studied are unlikely to degrade under reservoir conditions, and their release can cause major negative impacts on wildlife. With recent advances in the use of additives (e.g., nonionic surfactants, nanoparticles, and other chemicals) the use of harsh anionic surfactants may no longer be warranted. This paper discusses recent advances in producing foaming systems, and highlights possible strategies to develop environmentally friendly CO2 EOR methods.

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New Insight into the Development of Oxygen Carrier Materials for Chemical Looping Systems
Zhuo Cheng, Lang Qin, Jonathan A. Fan, Liang-Shih Fan
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 343 -351 .
Abstract   PDF (2604KB)

Chemical looping combustion (CLC) and chemical looping reforming (CLR) are innovative technologies for clean and efficient hydrocarbon conversion into power, fuels, and chemicals through cyclic redox reactions. Metal oxide materials play an essential role in the chemical looping redox processes. During reduction, the oxygen carriers donate the required amount of oxygen ions for hydrocarbon conversion and product synthesis. In the oxidation step, the depleted metal oxide oxygen carriers are replenished with molecular oxygen from the air while heat is released. In recent years, there have been significant advances in oxygen carrier materials for various chemical looping applications. Among these metal oxide materials, iron-based oxygen carriers are attractive due to their high oxygen-carrying capacity, cost benefits, and versatility in applications for chemical looping reactions. Their reactivity can also be enhanced via structural design and modification. This review discusses recent advances in the development of oxygen carrier materials and the mechanisms of hydrocarbon conversion over these materials. These advances will facilitate the development of oxygen carrier materials for more efficient chemical looping technology applications.

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Techno-Economic Challenges of Fuel Cell Commercialization
Junye Wang, Hualin Wang, Yi Fan
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 352 -360 .
Abstract   PDF (1657KB)

As resource scarcity, extreme climate change, and pollution levels increase, economic growth must rely on more environmentally friendly and efficient production processes. Fuel cells are an ideal alternative to internal combustion (IC) engines and boilers on the path to greener industries because of their high efficiency and environmentally friendly operation. However, as a new energy technology, significant market penetration of fuel cells has not yet been achieved. In this paper, we perform a techno-economic and environmental analysis of fuel cell systems using life cycle and value chain activities. First, we investigate the procedure of fuel cell development and identify what activities should be undertaken according to fuel cell life cycle activities, value chain activities, and end-user acceptance criteria. Next, we present a unified learning of the institutional barriers in fuel cell commercialization. The primary end-user acceptance criteria are function, cost, and reliability; a fuel cell should outperform these criteria compared with its competitors, such as IC engines and batteries, to achieve a competitive advantage. The repair and maintenance costs of fuel cells (due to low reliability) can lead to a substantial cost increase and decrease in availability, which are the major factors for end-user acceptance. The fuel cell industry must face the challenge of how to overcome this reliability barrier. This paper provides a deeper insight into our work over the years on the main barriers to fuel cell commercialization, and discusses the potential pivotal role of fuel cells in a future low-carbon green economy. It also identifies the needs and points out some directions for this future low-carbon economy. Green energy, supplied with fuel cells, is truly the business mode of the future. Striving for a more sustainable development of economic growth by adopting green public investments and implementing policy initiatives encourages environmentally responsible industrial investments.

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A Mini-Review on Metal Recycling from Spent Lithium Ion Batteries
Xiaohong Zheng, Zewen Zhu, Xiao Lin, Yi Zhang, Yi He, Hongbin Cao, Zhi Sun
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 361 -370 .
Abstract   PDF (504KB)

The rapid growth of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) for portable electronic devices and electric vehicles has resulted in an increased number of spent LIBs. Spent LIBs contain not only dangerous heavy metals but also toxic chemicals that pose a serious threat to ecosystems and human health. Therefore, a great deal of attention has been paid to the development of an efficient process to recycle spent LIBs for both economic aspects and environmental protection. In this paper, we review the state-of-the-art processes for metal recycling from spent LIBs, introduce the structure of a LIB, and summarize all available technologies that are used in different recovery processes. It is notable that metal extraction and pretreatment play important roles in the whole recovery process, based on one or more of the principles of pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, biometallurgy, and so forth. By further comparing different recycling methods, existing challenges are identified and suggestions for improving the recycling effectiveness can be proposed.

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Comparing End-Use Potential for Industrial Food-Waste Sources
Raymond RedCorn, Samira Fatemi, Abigail S. Engelberth
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 371 -380 .
Abstract   PDF (719KB)

Approximately one quarter of the global edible food supply is wasted. The drivers of food waste can occur at any level between production, harvest, distribution, processing, and the consumer. While the drivers vary globally, the industrialized regions of North America, Europe, and Asia share similar situations; in each of these regions the largest loss of food waste occurs with the consumer, at approximately 51% of total waste generated. As a consequence, handling waste falls on municipal solid waste operations. In the United States, food waste constitutes 15% of the solid waste stream by weight, contributes 3.4 × 107t of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions, and costs 1.9 billion USD in disposal fees. The levels of carbon, nutrients, and moisture in food waste make bioprocessing into higher value products an attractive method for mitigation. Opportunities include extraction of nutraceuticals and bioactive compounds, or conversion to a variety of volatile acids—including lactic, acetic, and propionic acids—that can be recovered and sold at a profit. The conversion of waste into volatile acids can be paired with bioenergy production, including hydrogen or biogas. This present review compares the potential for upgrading industrial food waste to either specialty products or methane. Higher value uses of industrial food waste could alleviate approximately 1.9 × 108 t of CO2equivalent emissions. As an example, potato peel could be upgraded to lactic acid via fermentation to recover 5600 million USD per year, or could be converted to methane via anaerobic digestion, resulting in a revenue of 900 million USD per year. The potential value to be recovered is significant, and food-waste valorization will help to close the loop for various food industries.

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Intelligent Mining Technology for an Underground Metal Mine Based on Unmanned Equipment
Jian-guo Li, Kai Zhan
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 381 -391 .
Abstract   PDF (3525KB)

This article analyzes the current research status and development trend of intelligent technologies for underground metal mines in China, where such technologies are under development for use to develop mineral resources in a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly manner. We analyze and summarize the research status of underground metal mining technology at home and abroad, including some specific examples of equipment, technology, and applications. We introduce the latest equipment and technologies with independent intellectual property rights for unmanned mining, including intelligent and unmanned control technologies for rock-drilling jumbos, down-the-hole (DTH) drills, underground scrapers, underground mining trucks, and underground charging vehicles. Three basic platforms are used for intelligent and unmanned mining: the positioning and navigation platform, information-acquisition and communication platform, and scheduling and control platform. Unmanned equipment was tested in the Fankou Lead-Zinc Mine in China, and industrial tests on the basic platforms of intelligent and unmanned mining were carried out in the mine. The experiment focused on the intelligent scraper, which can achieve autonomous intelligent driving by relying on a wireless communication system, location and navigation system, and data-acquisition system. These industrial experiments indicate that the technology is feasible. The results show that unmanned mining can promote mining technology in China to an intelligent level and can enhance the core competitive ability of China’s mining industry.

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A Non-Contact Original-State Online Real-Time Monitoring Method for Complex Liquids in Industrial Processes
Ning Duan, Linhua Jiang, Fuyuan Xu, Ge Zhang
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 392 -397 .
Abstract   PDF (1761KB)

Failures are very common during the online real-time monitoring of large quantities of complex liquids in industrial processes, and can result in excessive resource consumption and pollution. In this study, we introduce a monitoring method capable of non-contact original-state online real-time monitoring for strongly coated, high-salinity, and multi-component liquids. The principle of the method is to establish the relationship among the concentration of the target substance in the liquid (C), the color space coordinates of the target substance at different concentrations (L*, a*, b*), and the maximum absorption wavelength (λmax); subsequently, the optimum wavelength λT of the liquid is determined by a high-precision scanning-type monitoring system that is used to detect the instantaneous concentration of the target substance in the flowing liquid. Unlike traditional monitoring methods and existing online monitoring methods, the proposed method does not require any pretreatment of the samples (i.e., filtration, dilution, oxidation/reduction, addition of chromogenic agent, constant volume, etc.), and it is capable of originalstate online real-time monitoring. This method is employed at a large electrolytic manganese plant to monitor the Fe3+ concentration in the colloidal process of the plant’s aging liquid (where the concentrations of Fe3+, Mn2+, and (NH4)2SO4are 0.5–18 mg·L1, 35–39 g·L1, and 90–110 g·L1, respectively). The relative error of this monitoring method compared with an off-line laboratory monitoring is less than 2%.

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Mechanochemical-Assisted Leaching of Lamp Phosphors: A Green Engineering Approach for Rare-Earth Recovery
Steff Van Loy, Koen Binnemans, Tom Van Gerven
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 398 -405 .
Abstract   PDF (1703KB)

Rare-earth elements (REEs) are essential metals for the design and development of sustainable energy applications. Recycling these elements from waste streams enriched in them is crucial for securing an independent future supply for sustainable applications. This study compares the mechanisms of mechanical activation prior to a hydrometallurgical acid-leaching process and a solvometallurgical mechanochemical leaching process for the recovery of REEs from green lamp phosphor, LaPO4:Ce3+, Tb3+. After 60 min of processing time, the REE leaching rates showed a significant enhancement of 60% after cycled mechanical activation, and 98% after the combined mechanochemical leaching process. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) imaging disclosed the cause for the improved REE leaching rates: The improved leaching and leaching patterns could be attributed to changes in the crystal morphology from monocrystalline to polycrystalline. Reduction of the crystallite size to the nanoscale in a polycrystalline material creates irregular packing of chemical units, resulting in an increase in defect-rich grain boundaries in the crystals, which enhances the leaching process. A solvometallurgical method was developed to combine the mechanical activation and leaching process into a single step, which is beneficial for operational cost. This results in an efficient and simple process that provides an alternative and greener recycling route for lamp phosphor waste.

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Separation-and-Recovery Technology for Organic Waste Liquid with a High Concentration of Inorganic Particles
Hualin Wang, Pengbo Fu, Jianping Li, Yuan Huang, Ying Zhao, Lai Jiang, Xiangchen Fang, Tao Yang, Zhaohui Huang, Cheng Huang
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 406 -415 .
Abstract   PDF (3309KB)

The environmentally friendly and resourceful utilization of organic waste liquid is one of the frontiers of environmental engineering. With the increasing demand for chemicals, the problem of organic waste liquid with a high concentration of inorganic pollutants in the processing of petroleum, coal, and natural gas is becoming more serious. In this study, the high-speed self-rotation and flipping of particles in a threedimensional cyclonic turbulent field was examined using a synchronous high-speed camera technique; the self-rotation speed was found to reach 2000–6000 rad·s−1. Based on these findings, a cyclonic gasstripping method for the removal of organic matter from the pores of particles was invented. A technological process was developed to recover organic matter from waste liquid by cyclonic gas stripping and classifying inorganic particles by means of airflow acceleration classification. A demonstration device was built in Sinopec’s first ebullated-bed hydro-treatment unit for residual oil. Compared with the T-STAR fixed-bed gas-stripping technology designed in the United States, the maximum liquid-removal efficiency of the catalyst particles in this new process is 44.9% greater at the same temperature, and the time required to realize 95% liquid-removal efficiency is decreased from 1956.5 to 8.4 s. In addition, we achieved the classification and reuse of the catalyst particles contained in waste liquid according to their activity. A proposal to use this new technology was put forward regarding the control of organic waste liquid and the classification recovery of inorganic particles in an ebullated-bed hydro-treatment process for residual oil with a processing capacity of 2 × 106 t·a−1. It is estimated that the use of this new technology will lead to the recovery of 3100 ta−1 of diesel fuel and 647 t·a−1 of high-activity catalyst; in addition, it will reduce the consumption of fresh catalyst by 518 t·a−1. The direct economic benefits of this process will be as high as 37.28 million CNY per year.

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Industrial Application of a Deep Purification Technology for Flue Gas Involving Phase-Transition Agglomeration and Dehumidification
Jianmin Liu, Fahua Zhu, Xiuyuan Ma
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 416 -420 .
Abstract   PDF (780KB)

A moist plume forms when the flue gas emitted from wet desulfurization equipment exits into the ambient air, resulting in a waste of water resources and visual pollution. In addition, sulfur trioxide (SO3), water with dissolved salts, and particles in the wet flue gas form secondary pollution in the surrounding atmosphere. In this study, a deep purification technology for flue gas involving phase-transition agglomeration and dehumidification (PAD) is proposed. This deep purification technology includes two technical routes: the integrated technology of phase-transition agglomeration and a wet electrostatic precipitator (PAW); and the integrated technology of phase-transition agglomeration and a mist eliminator (PAM). Industrial applications of PAW and PAM were carried out on 630 and 1000 MW coal-fired units, respectively. The results show that the average amount of recycled water obtained from wet flue gas by means of PAD is more than 4 g·(kg·°C)–1. Decreasing the wet flue gas temperature by 1.5–5.3 °C allows 5%–20% of the moisture in the flue gas to be recycled; therefore, this process could effectively save water resources and significantly reduce water vapor emissions. In addition, the moist plume is effectively eliminated. With the use of this process, the ion concentration in droplets of flue gas is decreased by more than 65%, the SO3removal efficiency from flue gas is greater than 75%, and the removal efficiency of particulate matter is 92.53%.

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Turning Industrial Residues into Resources: An Environmental Impact Assessment of Goethite Valorization
Andrea Di Maria, Karel Van Acker
Engineering . 2018, 4 (3): 421 -429 .
Abstract   PDF (1208KB)

Goethite is a metals-rich residue that occurs during zinc production. The feasibility of metal recovery from goethite has been demonstrated, but is not economically viable on an industrial scale. Therefore, goethite is landfilled with considerable economic costs and environmental risks. The goal of this study is to evaluate the environmental performance of a new valorization strategy for goethite residues from zinc production, with the aims of: ① recovering the valuable zinc contained in the goethite and ② avoiding the landfilling of goethite by producing a clean byproduct. The presented goethite valorization strategy consists of a sequence of two processes: ① plasma fuming and ② inorganic polymerization of the fumed slag. Plasma fuming recovers the valuable metals by fuming the goethite. The metals-free fumed slag undergoes a process of inorganic polymerization to form inorganic polymers, that can be used as a novel building material, as an alternative to ordinary Portland cement (OPC)-based concrete. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is used to compare the environmental performance of the inorganic polymer with the environmental performances of equivalent OPC-based concrete. The LCA results show the tradeoff between the environmental burdens of the fuming process and inorganic polymerization versus the environmental benefits of metal recovery, OPC concrete substitution, and the avoidance of goethite landfilling. The goethite-based inorganic polymers production shows better performances in several environmental impact categories, thanks to the avoided landfilling of goethite. However, in other environmental impact categories, such as global warming, the goethite valorization is strongly affected by the high-energy requirements of the plasma-fuming process, which represent the environmental hotspots of the proposed goethite recycling scheme. The key elements toward the sustainability of goethite valorization have been identified, and include the use of a clean electric mix, more effective control of the fumed gas emissions, and a reduced use of fumed slag through increased efficiency of the inorganic polymerization process.

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