The Process Synthesis Pyramid: Conceptual design of a Liquefied Energy Chain using Pinch Analysis, Exergy Analysis, Deterministic Optimization and Metaheuristic Searches
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Process Synthesis (PS) is a term used to describe a class of general and systematic methods for the conceptual design of processing plants and energy systems. The term also refers to the development of the process flowsheet (structure or topology), the selection of unit operations and the determination of the most important operating conditions. In this thesis an attempt is made to characterize some of the most common methodologies in a PS pyramid and discuss their advantages and disadvantages as well as where in the design phase they could be used most efficiently. The thesis shows how design tools have been developed for subambient processes by combining and expanding PS methods such as Heuristic Rules, sequential modular Process Simulations, Pinch Analysis, Exergy Analysis, Mathematical Programming using Deterministic Optimization methods and optimization using Stochastic Optimization methods. The most important contributions to the process design community are three new methodologies that include the pressure as an important variable in heat exchanger network synthesis (HENS). The methodologies have been used to develop a novel and efficient energy chain based on stranded natural gas including power production with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This Liquefied Energy Chain consists of an offshore process a combined gas carrier and an onshore process. This energy chain is capable of efficiently exploiting resources that cannot be utilized economically today with minor CO2 emissions. Finally, a new Stochastic Optimization approach based on a Tabu Search (TS), the Nelder Mead method or Downhill Simplex Method (NMDS) and the sequential process simulator HYSYS is used to search for better solutions for the Liquefied Energy Chain with respect to minimum cost or maximum profit.