Process and Energy Systems Engineering

McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering | The University of Texas at Austin

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Chemical Processes and the Operation of the Power Grid

On August 25, 2016, Assistant Secretary Hoffman announced that the Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability of the US Department of Energy is investing in new research projects that "address risk and uncertainty in the grid." Among the five proposals funded, the interdisciplinary project proposed by our group in collaboration with Dr. Ross Baldick in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UT focuses on the ability of electricity-intensive chemical processes to participate in (and enhance) grid operations, effectively acting as "batteries" that can store energy in the form of salable chemicals.

The fundamental motivation for these research efforts lies in the evolution of the US energy markets in the past two decades; they have undergone significant transformations, driven by–amongst other issues–deregulation, the abundance and lower price of natural gas, and the explosive increase of renewable-based electricity generation from wind and solar resources. These developments are highly beneficial from an environmental and energy security viewpoint. Nevertheless, together with an increasingly time-variable demand, they are also at the origin of important variability and uncertainty challenges that are currently faced by grid operators.

The need to balance increasingly uncertain generation and fluctuating demand rates has prompted efforts towards engaging electricity consumers in the operation of the grid, via demand-side participation and management (DSPM) strategies. Of particular DSPM interest are demand response (DR) actions, whereby users reduce their electricity demand in response to a direct request from the grid operator, or alter their demand profile in response to a time-varying price signal.

In our research, we will seek to exploit the DR potential of industry, focusing on chemical processes, which account for about 30% of of industrial electricity consumption. While they have significant DR capabilities recent literature estimates place the actual exploited DR potential to about 20% to 50% of the available capacity, leaving an enormous portion untapped. Our project aims to remedy this situation. Our overall objective is to create the modeling framework that will enable the safe and extensive utilization of the DR potential of chemical processes. In particular, we will characterize the DR behavior of chemical plants by exploiting historical operating data. Concurrently, we will study the formulation and solution of the associated optimal DR production scheduling problems, focusing on real-time execution.



October 2017: Michael Baldea delivers invited keynote lecture at American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers' Operations and Process Technology Summit

September 2017: Michael Baldea promoted to Associate Professor

August 2017: Abby's paper analyzing the effect of energy storage on neighborhood CHP systems accepted for publication in Applied Energy

June 2017: Michael Baldea receives the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the Computing and Systems Technology Division of AIChE.

May 2017: Morgan receives the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Congratulations!

April 2017: Congratulations to Dr. Abigail Ondeck for successfully defending her PhD Thesis!

April 2017: Congratulations to Dr. Ray Wang for successfully defending his thesis!

March 2017: Siyun and Jodie's papers on autocovariance-based MPC plant-model mismatch estimation with measurable disturbances accepted in Systems&Control Letters and J. Process Control.

February 2017: Calvin sets new record by having two papers (AIChE J. and Comput. Chem. Eng.) accepted in one day!

January 2017: Productive and fun weekend group retreat in Fredericksburg. Check out the pics!

January 2017: Steve's paper published in Nucleic Acids Research.

January 2017: See our plenary talk with the Ierapetritou group at CPC/FOCAPO.

January 2017: Warm welcome to Joe Costandy, who joins us as a Ph.D. student!

November 2016: Michael Baldea elected Director of the CAST Division of AIChE.

November 2016: Michael Baldea gives seminar UC Santa Barbara.

October 2016: Ankur successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations DOCTOR Kumar!

October 2016: Lingqing and Morgan have joined the group. Welcome!

October 2016: Congratulations to DOCTOR Perez, who successfully defended his thesis on October 13!

October 2016: Hari Ganesh successfully defended his thesis proposal and acceded to candidacy. Congratulations!

September 2016: Congratulations to DOCTOR Pattison on his successful defense on September 15!

September 2016: Congratulations DOCTOR Sowa! Steve successfully defended his dissertation on September 7.

September 2016: Michael Baldea appointed to the Frank A. Liddell, Jr. Centennial Fellowship in Chemical Engineering.

August 2016: Our group receives support from the US Department of Energy for interdisciplinary research on demand-side management in chemica process systems.

August 2016: Congratulations to DOCTOR Wang! Siyun successfully defended his PhD Dissertation on August 3.

June 2016: Richard receives CAST Division Travel Award to attend AIChE Annual Meeting in San Francisco

May 2016: Melissa's paper accepted in Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification

May 2016: Ankur publishes two papers in AIChE J. and Control Engineering Practice

May 2016: Paper by Cara, Dana and Jena published in Applied Energy

April 2016: Michael Baldea presents invited seminar at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

April 2016: Conan successfully defends his PhD Dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. Park!

April 2016: Cara successfully defends her PhD Dissertation. Congratulations, Dr. Touretzky!

April 2016: Krystian's paper on integrating HVAC control and with scheduling of smart appliances accepted in Energy and Buildings

March 2016: Jodie receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Congratulations!

March 2016: Paper by Richard, Cara and Ted on scheduling under dynamic constraints published in Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.

March 2016: Michael Baldea will travel to Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, as Visiting Professor

February 2016: Joint paper with Prof. Truskett's group published in Journal of Chemical Physics

January 2016: Shu's paper on diagnosis of plant-wide oscillations published in Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.

December 2015: Papers on integrating scheduling and control by Cara, Juan and Conan published in AIChE J. and Energy and Buildings

November 2015: Group travels to Salt Lake City for AIChE Annual meeting: please follow our presentations

October 2015: Cara and Krystian win travel awards for 2015 AIChE Annual Meeting

October 2015: Michael Baldea presents seminar at Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen, and invited talk at the 8th Sino-US Chemical Engineering Conference in Shanghai

September 2015: Michael Baldea gives seminar at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech

August 2015: "From Process Integration to Process Intensification" published in Comput. Chem. Eng.

July 2015: Ted completes his MSc Dissertation as a joint effort between UT Austin and KTH Stokholm. Congratulations!

May 2015: Vincent graduates with MSc degree and joins Rockwell Automation. Congratulations!

March 2015: Michael Baldea presents invited seminar at "Babes-Bolyai" University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

February 2015: AnkurCara, Richard and Vincent receive awards at UT Energy Week, recognizing their contributions in energy research

January 2015: Ankur's Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. paper selected as ACS Editors' Choice for January 12, 2015, and will be available in Open Access

December 2014: Michael Baldea receives NSF CAREER award

December 2014: Ankur's paper on smart manufacturing appears in Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.

November 2014: Krystian's work featured in AIChE CAST Division Plenary Lecture

October 2014: Bailee presents her work on dividing wall columns (DWCs) at Emerson Exchange industry conference

August 2014: Antoine Salliot joins the group as a visiting student from INP Grenoble, France

July 2014: Richard's paper on equation-oriented flowsheet simulation is accepted in AIChE J.

July 2014: Michael Baldea gives plenary presentation at FOCAPD 2014

July 2014: Krystian's paper on data disaggregation is published in Energy and Buildings

June 2014: Ankur publishes in Procedia Computer Science on workflows for smart manufacturing

June 2014: Steve's paper appears in PLoS Computational Biology

June 2014: Cara's paper on managing energy storage in buildings appears in Journal of Process Control

April 2014: Ankur passed his preliminary doctoral examination. Well done!

April 2014: Michael Baldea receives Moncrief Grand Challenges Award

March 2014: Michael Baldea gives invited presentation at Ethylene Producers' Conference in New Orleans, LA

February 2014: Ray Wang's presentation on Visual Data Mining recognized as best presentation in session at 2013 AIChE Meeting

February 2014: Siyun's paper on Identification-Based Optimization published in C&CE

January 2014: Cara starts prestigious Winter Internship at NSF America Laboratories in Cupertino, CA

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