THEMES FOR IDEAS NGIC 2021
Apart from the areas mentioned in the themes earlier, any ideas (but not limited to) are also invited in the following topics:
A. Membrane Technology and their applications in reaction engineering, separation sciences, novel routes for membrane synthesis.
B.Novel materials development, novel routes for materials development
C.Nanoparticles that mimic hydrolytic enzymes
D.Development of assays for rapid screening of cellulose producing fungi
G.Waste Water Treatment and Waste Water Recycling Technologies
H.Nano composite coatings for prevention of corrosion & biofouling
POLYMER AND PETROCHEMICALS
A. Novel Polyolefin Composites and Blends
Polyolefin composites and blends are defined as materials which contain two or more phases (which are chemically and physically distinct from each other) and have a separating boundary between them. Composition containing optimized amounts of different filler or blend systems can result in enhanced structural and functional properties as compared to the base polymer. Polyolefins not only have a huge range of applications, but are also inexpensive and recyclable. Polyolefins could be either thermoplastic and elastomeric in nature depending on the monomer types. Properties of these materials can be enhanced by composite engineering.
B. Application of Polymers in Petroleum Industry
In refinery polymers are used as components of fluids or additives to correct problems that affect oil production and/or increase production costs. Polymers are beneficial in all phases of oil and gas production, i.e from drilling (upstream) to treatment of oil and water (downstream). They can be used to enhance operating efficiency, to reduce costs; or to elucidate mechanisms of action that can help in the development of new technologies.
NOVEL SEPARATION MATERIALS
A. Novel adsorbent materials for light olefin/paraffin separation:
As a consequence of the similar sizes and volatilities of the molecules, separations of olefin/paraffin mixtures, such as ethylene/ethane and propylene/propane, must currently be performed at low temperatures and high pressures and are among the most energy intensive separations carried out at large scale in the chemical industry. Novel technologies such as adsorption based PSA or membrane technologies seem to have good potential for making olefin/paraffin separation cost effective. However, conventional adsorbents such zeolites, activated carbons, etc. do not have sufficient adsorption capacities / selectivity required for effective separation. In this respect, ideas are invited to explore novel adsorbents for adsorptive separation of light olefin/paraffin.
B. N2 and O2 selective adsorbent for Biogas Purification
Biogas is a valuable renewable energy and also a secondary energy carrier produced from biodegradable organic materials via anaerobic digestion. Typically, raw biogas contains Methane (CH4) = 50 – 65%, Carbon dioxide (CO2) = 35 – 45%, Nitrogen (N2) = 1 – 10%, Oxygen (O2) = 0.1 – 5%, Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) = 10 – 3000 ppm with minor quantities of contaminants, such as ammonia (NH3), water vapor (H2O), methyl siloxanes, halogenated volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons. The finally supplied Compressed Biogas (CBG) shall meet IS 16087:2016 specifications of BIS. According to which CO2 + N2 + O2 combined concentration should be max 10.0 % and O2 should be max 0.5%. Pressure swing adsorption is widely used technology for biogas upgradation using suitable adsorbent.
In this respect ideas are invited to explore novel adsorbents materials for N2 and O2 adsorption from raw biogas stream which have higher selectivity over CH4.
C. Novel amines for NOx absorption
Amine scrubbing is an efficient and proven method for carbon capture, but as a chemical process, it has the potential to form toxic byproducts such as nitrosamines. Flue gas containing nitrogen oxides (NOx) enters a polishing scrubber where a fraction of the NOx can be removed via reaction with sulfite or tertiary amine. The NO can also absorb into solution via reaction with the amine radical to directly form the nitrosamine.
The ideas can include (i) New generation amine chemicals, (ii) homogenous/heterogeneous promoters to enhance the NOx absorption capacities, (iii) Additives for promoting low temperature regeneration.
ADVANCED ENERGY STORAGE MATERIALS / DEVICES
Battery is an indispensable part for e-mobility and as well as stationary applications. E- Mobility is rapidly expanding throughout the globe and India is not the exception of this trend. Currently, Lithium –Ion battery (LIB) technology has been most widely used in E-mobility applications for its high energy and power density. Although LIBs are becoming widely used in highly economically developed countries for both transportation and stationary storage, they have seen significantly less penetration in the Indian market particularly due to the complicated manufacturing process and scarcity of expensive raw materials (nickel, cobalt and lithium). Hence, innovative ideas are required to
(i) Develop efficient, novel and cheap electrode materials for LIB and solid state electrolyte which is suitable for Indian Condition.
(ii) Development of novel materials/electrocatalysts for non-lithium based rechargeable batteries particularly Sodium-ion, Metal-Sulphur ( MX2(M=metal; X=S or Se) and
(iii) Metal-Air battery
(iv) Graphene/Carbon-ion battery: superfast charging capacity
(v) Liquid Flow batteries
(vi) All solid state bipolar batteries
B. Super Capacitors
Presently, Lithium ion battery (LIB) is solely dominating in e-mobility sector but it is still suffering from long charging time and moderate power density, which are very essential parameters for advanced e-Mobility applications. Where the super capacitor has been recognized for fast charging and high power density but suffering from less energy density.
Hence, innovative ideas are required to develop efficient, novel and cheap electrode materials for symmetric/asymmetric super capacitor having high energy density, power density, cycle life, increasing the operation voltage window, decrease in self-discharge rate & Gradual voltage loss etc.
C. CIGS/Perovskite Tandem Solar Cells
A perovskite/CIGS tandem configuration is an attractive and viable approach to achieve an ultra-high efficiency solar cell. Recently, semi-transparent perovskite solar cell (PSC) with a maximum efficiency of 18.1% (with a bandgap of ∼1.62 eV) is stacked in tandem configuration with a 16.5% CIGS cell and tandem cell efficiency of 23.9% is achieved. Optical simulation predicts that, a perovskite/CIGS tandem efficiency of over 30% is feasible with a high bandgap perovskite top cell.
Innovative ideas are invited on fabrication of perovskite/CIGS tandem solar cells to achieve efficiency > 25 %.
CO2 CAPTURE AND CONVERSION TO HIGH VALUE CHEMICALS / FUELS
A. CO2 Separation from Flue Gases
The emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 is the main cause of global warming. Its separation from different emission sources such as chemical industries, oil refineries, power stations etc. to reduce greenhouse effect has been a mutual interest forthe world. Conventional processes such as absorption, cryogenic distillation and adsorption are used for this purpose but there are some drawbacks such as high energy consumption, process complexity and high capital cost are major issues which need some efficient alternative technique to be worked on. The developing technique such as membrane separation is highly compact, energy efficient, environmental friendly, scale-up flexible and possibly more economical than previously well-established technologies.
Innovative ideas are invited to develop efficient and economic membrane preparation chemistry to separate the CO2 from flue gas.
B. CO2 Conversion to Chemicals
In order to mitigate the issue of global warming, most countries have signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to abate the net atmospheric CO2 levels by 2050. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions while addressing energy shortages requires the conversion of CO2 into high added-value products like methane, methanol, dimethyl ether, olefins, aromatics, cyclic carbonates etc.
There is lot of research going on to convert CO2 to value added chemicals and solve the environmental issues. Among various pathways, low cost and energy saving pathways have to be considered which can provide high efficiency and long term stability and can show promising potential for industrial applications.
In this respect ideas are invited to explore novel catalytic materials and improve the catalyst stability. To explore more active catalysts for low-temperature and energy-saving CO2 activation and hydrogenation. Efficient photocatalyst which can give high conversion selectivity and must be stable.
C. Novel Chemicals/Strategies for CO2 and H2S Absorption
The ideas under this title can include
(i) New generation amine chemicals
(ii) homogenous/heterogeneous promoters to enhance the CO2 and H2S absorption capacities,
(iii) Additives for promoting low temperature regeneration
(iv) Chemicals to mimic the enzymatic promoters for CO2 and H2S absorption and
(v) Strategies similar to Demixing process developed recently.
A. Biomass to Hydrogen
Global pure hydrogen amounted 73.3 MMT in 2020 which is essentially used industrially for ammonia production (42.6%) and oil refining (51.7%). It is also foreseen since the 2000s hydrogen as a potential energy carrier, Hydrogen is currently produced at 96% by steam reforming of fossil fuels (natural gas, coal or oil), which produces 11-12 tons of CO2 per ton of hydrogen. Therefore, producing syngas and hydrogen from renewable sources such as bio-liquids is an interesting option to mitigate CO2 emissions. In catalytic steam reforming (SR) of bio-oils, steam is added as reactant in the feed stream to promote the SR reactions of bio-oil components and the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction to improve the hydrogen yield. However, a rapid catalyst deactivation took place within the few hour of operation due to carbon formation.
Ideas are invited for producing H2/Syngas through reforming routes like steam/dry reforming, Bi/Tri reforming, aqueous phase reforming and autothermal reforming of bio-oils/bio gas to overcome deactivation challenges. Hydrogen is increasingly being projected as the fuel of the future due to its clean burning characteristics. The commercial production of H2 is predominantly via steam methane reforming (SMR) process which produces around 8-10 tons of CO2 per ton of hydrogen produced. Therefore, the objective is to develop a process for hydrogen production with minimum or no CO2 production. Water electrolysis is one possible solution but it requires electricity generation through renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro which is a costly affair. Biomass is another renewable source of hydrogen. Biomass gasification or steam reforming can produce hydrogen but the yields are usually low due to the lower content of hydrogen in biomass compared to that in natural gas. Ideas are invited on developing processes for producing green hydrogen from biomass with commercially viable yield.
B. Chemical Looping Process for Hydrogen Production
Chemical looping technology is an emerging area where the concept can be used for H2, bulk chemicals, power, CO2 capture and conversion and circular economy. In this technology, simultaneous feedstock conversion and product separation without additional processes via circulating solid intermediates (oxygen/nitrogen carriers) in a redox process is possible. This contributes to the improvement of product selectivity and energy conservation.
Ideas are invited in the area of chemical looping technology applied for H2 production,
C. Molten Metal Based Systems for H2 Production
H2 is a clean fuel, which is majorly produced by steam methane reforming of natural gas or higher hydrocarbons. One of the approach is to use direct decomposition of natural gas to hydrogen. This enables lower CO2 and water footprint compared to SMR. In direct decomposition deploying molten metal based systems may provide a cost competitive solution compared to SMR.
D. Improved Hydrogen Generation and Storage
Hydrogen is considered as the fuel of the future. Several efforts are on to reach hydrogen economy with short term to long term goals. Ideas are invited in the area of Hydrogen economy from Grey to Green hydrogen concepts that may involve but not limited to areas such as,
a. Energy efficiency improvement in SMR
b. Process Intensification in Hydrogen production
c. Novel Storage concepts
E. Fuel Cells (PEM and SOFC) for Power Production and Water Splitting to Produce Hydrogen
A solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is a promising energy conversion device with high efficiency and low pollutant emission. The practical application of the conventional SOFCs is limited mainly because of their high operating temperature and the inconvenience brought by the H2 fuel utilization.
A. Lowering the operating temperature.
B. Develop suitable hybrid electrolyte to increase the ionic conductivity.
C. Utilizing non-hydrogen fuels.
High efficiency, fuel flexibility and low temperature operation make the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell the pioneer in the area of energy conversion system. Till now, few major challenges have to be addressed for the full-fledged application for mobility/stationary applications. Ideas are invited for addressing the following challenges in PEM fuel cell:
A. Develop electrocatalyst materials to encounter the sluggish Oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).
B. Reduce the platinum Group materials (PGM) in the PEM fuel Cell.
C. Increase the stability of the electrocatalyst and support materials
A. Novel Reactor Systems
Petroleum refining is dealing with several chemical reactions which are being performed in various types of reactions such as CSTR, Trickle bed reactors, Fluidized bed reactor, Bubble column reactor, tubular reactors, slurry bubble column reactors etc. Based on the need of the process, these conventional reactors are being used. All these reactors have their own advantages and disadvantages for specific applications. Researchers are also working in several novel reactors ( such as monolith reactor, microchannel reactor, membrane reactor, electrochemical reactor, bio reactors etc.) for further improvements in conversion, mass transfer limitations, heat transfer limitations, improved effectiveness, lower capital cost etc. Extensive research efforts are also being put by the researchers for improved reactor internals ( Improved stirrer design, efficient gas-liquid distributors for trickle bed reactors, improved feed spray nozzle & reactor-riser design for fluidized bed reactors ) for existing reactors for further process improvements.
Innovative ideas are invited on the area of novel reactors and improved reactor internals for petroleum refining applications.
B. Application of Ionic liquids in Oil Refinery
Ionic liquids (ILs) are the class of quaternary organic salts composed of moderately large organic cations and inorganic or organic anions. ILs have been recognized as potential green alternative to the conventional organic solvents in various applications such as organic synthesis, catalysis, electrochemistry and chemical separation. They are further characterized by their inherent physicochemical properties such as negligible vapor pressure, high thermal stability, ability to dissolve organic, inorganic and polymeric materials, wide electrochemical window, and intrinsic electric conductivity.
Moreover, the physicochemical and solvation properties of ILs can be easily tuned by simple alteration of the substituent groups encompassing the cation and/or anion. Hence ideas are invited for economically viable ionic liquids which can be used in desulfurization of diesel/gasoline, deoxygenation of bio-oil and any other refinery applications.
C. Catalytic Routes to Convert Natural Gas to Chemicals
Natural gas is abundantly available fossil fuel source. In view of increasing worldwide chemical demand, conversion of natural gas to high value chemicals like olefins and aromatics can be an attractive cost effective technology. Currently, NTL process mainly suffers from low conversion, catalyst instability and low selectivity towards desired chemicals.
Ideas are invited in the area of new catalysts, reactor designs and technology for conversion of natural gas to olefins and aromatics.
D. Applications of CNT
Carbon nano tubes have inherent superior properties like excellent mechanical and electrical properties. Due to these properties, several methods for large scale manufacturing of CNT are under development. Currently, Multi walled CNT (MWCNT) is being used in polymer composites, battery and other applications.
Ideas are invited on cost effective large scale applications of MWCNT in various fields like polymers, batteries and other composite materials etc.
WASTE TO FUELS / CHEMICALS
A. Biomass to Pharmaceutical Chemicals
Ideas are invited for the conversion of biomass to chemicals with emphasis on different cost effective methods for production of Pharma chemicals. It can discuss, recent developments of chemical routes to produce industrial quantities of basic ingredients, or 'platform chemical' such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, levulinic acid, furfurals, sugar alcohols, lactic acid, succinic acid, phenols etc for useful pharmaceutical compounds.
B. Homogenous or Heterogeneous Catalysts for Biomass Hydrolysis
Biomass hydrolysis with enzymes is expensive and time consuming. Alternatives to enzymes in the form of chemical catalysts need to be found for carrying out the hydrolysis of polymeric components of biomass (cellulose and hemicellulose) into monomeric sugars.
A. AI for Predicting Fouling in Heat Exchangers
Fouling on process equipment and heat exchanger surfaces have a significant, detrimental impact on the working efficiency and operation of the heat exchangers. The existing research on fouling mitigation is predominantly on fouling prevention using anti-foulant chemicals. A prediction model which can predict fouling can yield benefits such as improved plant operation, minimization in energy consumption and reduced maintenance costs.
Ideas are invited for use of Artificial Intelligence techniques for creating a prediction model which can predict fouling with precision & accuracy.
B. Artificial Intelligence in Polymer Product / Technology Development
Artificial intelligence (AI) and, in particular, machine learning (ML) as a subcategory of AI, provides unique opportunities for the discovery and development of innovative polymers and organic molecules. In the past, the development of polymers and organic molecules traditionally has been a trail-and-error process, guided by experience of experts, human intuition, and conceptual insights. However, such an approach is usually slow, costly and biased towards certain domains of chemical space, and limited to relatively small-scale studies. Ideas are invited for using AI to achieve target property through minimum experimentation.
A. New Technologies towards Circular Economy
Circular economy is an essential topic of interest for every industry where recycling and re-use of industrial/used waste materials are considered. Entries are invited in these areas but not limited to the following;
• New Concepts to achieve circular economy in petroleum refining, petrochemicals and polymers
• Ideas for segregation, storage & processing waste for recycle/reuse
B. Creating Value from Plastic Waste (Polyethylene)
Plastic waste presents a number of environmental problems. Although only a small fraction of it enters rivers, lakes, and oceans, it can be transformed there into micro- and nanoplastics that are harmful to aquatic organisms. When plastic waste is buried in landfills or incinerated, it generates heat and carbon dioxide. However, plastic waste also offers great opportunities if its economic value can be increased substantially through upcycling processes that convert it into more valuable chemical products. One way to overcome this economic hurdle is to convert waste plastics into value-added materials or chemicals. With regard to the upcycling of polyethylene, the selective conversion of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) waste into succinic, glutaric, and adipic acid are some of the options.
The ideas are invited to develop eco-friendly process for conversion of polyethylene to industrially important chemicals such as succinic, glutaric, and adipic acid.
C. Cost Effective Ways to valorize Spent Catalyst
Spent catalyst handling and maintenance is serious environmental and economic concern. The ideas can include (i) Cost effective ways of regeneration and rejuvenation of the spent catalyst (ii) Rejuvenated catalyst application for petroleum industry, (iii) Cost effective and practical ways for valuable metal recovery options in bulk scale.
D. Wet waste to Fuels/Chemicals
Wet waste is an underutilized feedstock in the world, especially in India. Wet waste includes food waste, animal manure, waste water sludge, waste fats, oils and greases. Diverting food waste from landfills is of particular note for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as landfilling one dry ton of food waste has been estimated to release as much as 1.8 tons of CO2 equivalents, assuming landfill methane is collected and recovered for electricity generation. Globally, food waste accounts for 6% of greenhouse emissions. The high moisture content of wet waste restricts the use of conventional thermochemical conversion approaches (e.g., pyrolysis and gasification) used to produce liquid biofuels from terrestrial biomass, directing technology development efforts toward hydrothermal liquefaction, biological conversion, and hybrid processes. Although CBG technologies were already available for conversion of wet waste to methane, but CH4 itself is a green house gas. Therefore, a novel approach is required, which can convert wet waste with high moisture content to fuels or chemicals by means of multistep route catalytically.
Lignocellulosic biomass is a renewable source of carbon which can be converted into a liquid called biocrude via hydrothermal liquefaction. This biocrude needs further upgrading to make it compatible with petroleum crude for processing in conventional petroleum refineries. Hydrothermal liquefaction involves mixing biomass with water and subjecting the mixture to high pressures (>100 bar) and moderate to high temperatures to produce the biocrude. This biocrude is highly viscous, acidic and has lower heating value than petroleum crude.
Ideas are invited to develop a process using different solvents and novel catalysts for improving the biocrude yields and properties.