Optimal transition of petroleum refineries to achieve decarbonization objectives


Decarbonization of Indian petroleum, petrochemical, and gas processing refineries is essential to achieve national climate change mitigation (greenhouse gas reduction) targets. This will require adoption of technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration and use of blue hydrogen. Selection of the appropriate technology will depend on the decarbonization potential, cost, scalability, and technology readiness level. It is, therefore, important to rigorously compare promising options and rank them in terms of suitability for petroleum, petrochemical and gas processing sector.

Simultaneously, targets set by the government will affect the business models since demands for petroleum products are expected to stabilize and reduce in the next two decades. This means refineries may need to produce chemicals instead of fuel, making oil-to-chemicals an important area. Such a transition must be achieved while using existing capital infrastructure while meeting the economic, environmental and social commitments.

The student working on this topic will study one or more of these ideas is details. The work will involve some of the following specific tasks:

  • Identify decarbonization technology options for renewable hydrogen and carbon capture and utilization/storage (CCU/CCS)
  • Perform life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic assessment of decarbonization technology options
  • Provide recommendations based on LCA, TEA and technology readiness level
  • Study different oil-to-chemical options as well as future market trends
  • Develop mass and energy balance models for promising routes
  • Develop systematic (optimization) models to determine refinery specific transition pathways

Note that it may not be possible to complete all of the tasks mentioned above. We may decide to focus on some of these aspects based on the interest of the student and needs of the refinery. 

This work is completely computational in nature and may involve active interaction with experts from Indian petroleum refineries. Student working on this project will need to develop expertise in process design and modeling, mass and energy balance, and process integration. Additionally, the student will also need to learn life cycle assessment, techno-economic assessment, and mathematical optimization methods.


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