CASL Lab Develops a Comprehensive System for Optimizing the Production of Synthetic Liquid Fuels

Posted November 27, 2012

Synthetic fuels from coal, natural gas, and non-food crops can replace the need for crude oil in the United States. They can be readily integrated with the current transportation fuels and used in automobile engines due to their similarities with fuels from crude oil. Plants also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and can reduce vehicle greenhouse emissions.

Team members Richard C. Baliban, Josephine A. Elia, and Professor Christodoulos A. Floudas in the Computer-Aided Systems Laboratory have investigated scenarios in which the United States can utilize domestically available resources such as coal, natural gas, and biomass to produce synthetic fuels as well as reducing national emissions from the transportation sector by 50 percent. The major contributions are the strategies to optimize the layout and topology of a single plant and the strategic locations and supply chain layout for a network of plants. In both aspects, impacts on local resources such as water supplies and grid electricity are curbed.

The team has found that using optimization-based approaches, synthetic fuels can be produced in an economically attractive way both in the single plant level as well as the nationwide supply chain level. The economic performance and the emissions reduction suggest that synthetic fuels are a viable path towards energy security and independence for the United States. See also the Princeton University home page

Return to news.