Plant Energy - Turning Algae into Fuel

Two chemical engineering students convert marine microalgae into petrochemicals

With environmental benefits, renewable fuel sources are in high demand. Recently, two chemical engineering students from Turkey’s Izmir Institute of Technology demonstrated how marine microalgae can be converted into petrochemicals.

Ozgun Deliismail and Okan Akin demonstrated how to produce bio-based ethylene from algae, helping them defeat 60 teams from 25 countries to win Honeywell’s UniSim® Design Challenge.

“The fundamental drive was that we have to alter our attitude toward and understanding of bio based resources to make them more popular in the chemical industry and our daily life if we want to change environmental issues,” Delijsmail explained the idea behind their design.

Unisim winners

Pictured left to right: Rohan McAdam, chief architect, Honeywell Process Solutions; Prof. Dr. Erol Seker, Chemical Engineering Department, Izmir Institute of Technology; Ozgun Deliismail, chemical engineering student, Izmir Institute of Technology; Okan Akin, chemical engineering student, Izmir Institute of Technology

Ethylene is an important chemical that forms the building blocks for a range of plastic products. The students’ preliminary design using the UniSim Design Suite, software that enables engineers to create a variety of models for plant operations and procedures, showed the potential for a drastically reduced carbon footprint resulting from a new hybrid process to generate ethylene from algae. Furthermore, this simulation also demonstrated the profitability of this type of bio-ethylene production, which was another objective for the students. “It is my goal to contribute to breakthrough technologies that have a chance to end up in practice,” said Akin.

“The interest in renewable petrochemicals continues due to a combination of environmental concerns and economic uncertainties,” said John Roffel, director of Honeywell’s Simulation and Operator Competency product lines. “It is great to see that students around the world find new ways to tackle global challenges.”

Josephine Lee

Performance Materials and Technologies