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Optimisation of a coal-fired power plant wins award

University of Sydney student Rajab Khalilpour wins the top award for his project focusing on the simulation and optimisation of a coal-fired power plant using a solvent-based post-combustion carbon capture process.

(Pictured alongside: (L-R) Rajab Khalilpour, Ali Abbas and Garry Mahoney, Director Pacific Sales, Honeywell Process Solutions.)

Khalilpour won inaugural Pacific Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Student Competition, held in conjunction with the Honeywell Process Solutions’ (HPS) customer conference in Perth last week.

Khalilpour’s process captures the emitted CO2 from coal power plants using reactive absorbents. The objective is to capture up to 90% of the CO2 which means less is released into the atmosphere and provides a carbon pollution reduction technology which helps power plants reduce their carbon emissions.

Designed to inspire innovation within the fields of industrial processes, the HPS Student competition recognises university and technical students for designing solutions that solve critical manufacturing plant issues.

This year, students pursuing degrees in technical fields at universities in Australia and New Zealand were challenged to utilise simulation technology to design solutions that address challenges currently being faced by companies in the process industries.

The winner earns the opportunity to present to manufacturing companies and potential employers at this week’s annual Pacific HUG.

Khalilpour, a student at the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, used UniSim Design to simulate an existing coal-fired power plant and the planned solvent-based post-combustion carbon capture (PCC) process.

This process has become important because of its potential to reduce carbon emissions in power plants.

In studying the impact of various solvents and PCC design configurations on overall process performance, Khalilpour demonstrated the potential of heat integration to reduce energy penalties by about 18 per cent – where the penalty is the energy diverted to the PCC process from the power plant which would otherwise have been used for electricity production.

"The HUG Competition presented our students with a tremendous opportunity to apply their doctoral research towards very real problems and needs," said Ali Abbas, senior lecturer and director of the Laboratory for Multiscale Systems for the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney.

"Such competitions not only help to uncover the next generation of process industry leaders, but also go a long way towards aligning higher education with the realities and challenges faced in our world today."

“It’s very encouraging to see the critical thinking and innovative ideas put forth in this competition by these students,” said Tony Cosgrove, vice president-Asia Pacific for HPS.

“They addressed real-world challenges that today’s engineers face, and all of them represent the type of talent our customers are looking for to help advance their respective industries.”

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