Energy Efficiency and Value Added Products | Hamad Bin Khalifa University

Energy efficiency is an energy source and an important building block for sustainable development as it strengthens the national energy security, reduces stress on power plants and minimizes the harmful impact from carbon emissions and air pollution on the environment. A successful energy efficiency research and development requires a comprehensive program that promotes energy efficiency in all key sectors of the economy, including the Built Environment, Oil and Gas, and industry. 

The Energy Efficiency and Value-Added Products research portfolio was created in October 2016 during consolidation and restructuring activities within QEERI to enable the integration of energy efficiency into Qatar’s national economy. The portfolio’s research areas and activities are focused on built environment, supply chain management, and value-added products from the oil and gas industry. The main objectives are to provide tools and measures that can help reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 10-20 percent by 2022, optimize container movement and the truck appointment system (TAS) in the Qatar New Port, and advance key research areas related to the oil and gas industry in Qatar, respectively. 

Some examples of current research activities within this portfolio include energy optimization of district cooling systems, energy-efficient dehumidification of intake air to cooling towers, smart technologies in home energy management, containers port supply chain energy management and optimization, process development and optimization of the Acid Gas Removal (AGR) processes for enhancing sour gas loading and reducing high energy consumption. In addition, developing a catalyst for CO2 conversion to useful products.

 

1. Built Environment

Energy efficiency is already a priority in Qatar as emphasized by the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The State of Qatar rewards energy efficient choices and encourages investment and innovation. Hence energy efficiency is both an economic opportunity and environmental imperative. Energy efficiency is considered to be a key factor to any economic sustainable growth because it provides the means to monitor and manage current energy usage, minimize energy waste and help predict future energy demands. This type of information helps utility agencies to prepare for peak loads and reduce uncertainties in future capacity prediction. 

This pillar aims to enable the integration and implementation of energy efficiency into the built environment sector in Qatar, and to develop measures, energy management tools and applications that can reduce the current level of energy consumption. Key research activities:

    1. Improving energy efficiency in district cooling systems.
    2. Development of adaptive and smart technologies for home energy management.

    2. Supply Chain Management

    This pillar is focused on the optimization of supply chain management operations through minimization of energy consumption and vessel berth times with a special emphasis on ports in Qatar. One area of the research focuses on optimizing the loading and unloading operations of vessels which is directly related to the stacking (decreases the number of moves of containers) and indirectly to the horizontal container transport.  In practice these complex practical problem are represented using mathematical models, which are later solved using a wide range of optimization techniques.

    Some examples of methods used in QEERI research activities are mixed integer programming, ant colony optimization (ACO), greedy randomized adaptive search procedure and many others. The second topic of interest under this pillar is minimizing the energy consumption related to cooling of reefer containers.  This is done through the development of mathematical models and optimizing certain aspects of the process. 

    3. Process Improvement and Value Added products from Hydrocarbon and CO2

    As a global leader in the production of natural gas and petroleum products, Qatar is continuously working to enhance the mitigation of its CO2 emissions and improve the quality of the product and the performance of the process. This becomes clear in the Qatar National Vision 2030, which has emphasized the importance of diversifying the economy and reducing Qatar’s carbon footprint. To address these challenges and to ensure sustainable growth, and management of energy resources a coordinated multi-disciplinary approach is needed. In this context, catalysis and process improvement for energy and petrochemical development will play an important role for change in the chemical industry. The research activities at QEERI are aligned with these challenges and have focused on improving the acid gas removal process and catalysis and development of higher value products from oil and gas.

    Current research activities at QEERI relevant to Qatar’s oil and gas industry are:

      1. Development of state of the art R&D capabilities for acid gas removal industrial and catalysis.
      2. Natural Gas and petrochemical Process optimization and integration.
      3. Novel AGR-EOR combination for treating natural gas to improve energy efficiency, maximizing oil production and mitigation for CO2 emissions.
      4. The development of comprehensive catalytic knowledge and process technologies for the optimal exploitation of C-1 feedstock such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane.

      SUMMARY OF RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

      Developed the energy-smart thermostat proof of concept (built and tested). This smart thermostat utilizes temperature and humidity conditions to determine a new temperature set point that is either more energy efficient and/or provides more comfort level to the end user. The initial results are promising. A thermostat simulation tool using MATHLAB tool is being built and will be used for further R/D. A patent application has been filed through the IPTT office.

      A dynamic model of the liquid-to-air membrane energy exchanger (LAMEE) has been developed using numerical tool (COMSOL) and validated using analytical solution and published data. This model showcases the potential savings from dehumidification of the inlet ambient air to the cooling tower in District Cooling plants.

      Developed an efficient method for finding optimal procedure for loading containers from the bay to the vessel. The method has been applied on the standardly used model (Block Relocation Problem). The chosen approach is Ant Colony Optimization.

      Developed a techno-economic model for acid gas removal (AGR) that shows high potential savings and an estimated ROI of 5 months. This method utilizes a novel optimization technique for the design and operation parameters of AGR to generate steam through inter-cooling process at absorption stage and from stripper. Two patent disclosures have been filed.

      Executed a lab abroad program at TNO research labs (Netherlands) to modify a new combination of potential solvents, VLE measurements were conducted as well. Done ahead of the arrival of laboratory equipment to QEERI.

      Functional chemical synthetic lab for the value added products from hydrocarbons to perform synthesis is near conclusion. In addition, significant progress has been made in establishing a functional catalysis and high throughput catalysis laboratory

       

      PARTNERSHIPS

      KAHRAMAA

      Initiated, developed and finalized a two-year research collaboration agreement between QEERI and KAHRAMAA. This agreement is leveraging QEERI expertise on energy efficiency research and development and utilizing KAHRAMAA as the only utility entity in Qatar to provide QEERI with 2-3 testbed facilities for district cooling optimization experimental research activities. The collaboration aims to improve the energy efficiency of district cooling systems by 10-20%, thus reducing energy costs, and minimizing adverse impacts on the environment

      Qatar Petroleum (QP)

      QEERI and QP have had several meetings and technical discussions to establish a long-term collaboration agreement to conduct specific tasks, activities and analysis, and to assist in all required work in offshore and onshore (Oil, Water and Gas) beyond QP capabilities as needed such as:

      • Gas and oil process engineering, optimization and operation excellence
      • Free consulting operational troubleshooting in gas processing plants
      • Plants Operation Excellence (OE) to achieve lower operational risk, lower operating cost and increased revenues
      • Process optimization for NGL, GLRU and acid gas removal plants
      • Process optimization for gas recycling plants
      • De-flaring studies and pipeline hydraulic studies
      • Three-phase separation studies
      • Crude oil rheology and pipeline start-up studies
      • Other activities related to oil characterization, water analysis, gas analysis, third party lab for corrosion evaluation and material failure
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