As we approach a “Full Earth” of over ten billion people within the next century, unprecedented demands will be placed on food, energy and water (FEW) supplies. The grand challenge before us is to sustainably meet humanity’s FEW needs using scarcer resources. To overcome this challenge, we propose the utilization of the entire solar spectrum by redirecting solar photons to maximize FEW production from a given land area. We present novel solar spectrum unbundling FEW systems (SUFEWS), which can meet FEW needs locally while reducing the overall environmental impact of meeting these needs. The ability to meet FEW needs locally is critical, as significant population growth is expected in less-developed areas of the world. The proposed system presents a solution to harness the same amount of solar products (crops, electricity, and purified water) that could otherwise require ~60% more land if SUFEWS were not used—a major step for Full Earth preparedness.
The development and implementation of alternative energy conversion techniques using renewable energy sources is critical for a sustainable economy. Among renewable energy sources, solar energy is prominent due to its abundance. Towards a sustainable economy, this paper presents a process design concept to synthesize Solar Electricity, Water, Food and Chemical (SEWFAC) processes. The proposed approach entails systematic synthesis of energy efficient, synergistic processes incorporating process intensification for optimal utilization of resources. The objective is the development of coproduction processes around the clock on an as-needed basis. A general strategy and detailed analysis to synthesize efficient solar thermal hydrogen production processes through solar thermal power cogeneration. Process simulations and optimizations are performed using an integrated MATLAB and Aspen Plus modeling environment. The proposed process designs are evaluated based on the various metrics introduced. Process designs are estimated to achieve 11% higher exergy efficiency compared to the traditional processes.
Limited fossil fuel reserves and increasing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels make it essential to develop alternative renewable energy conversion processes to meet energy needs. Advancements in renewable power production are especially important since electric power is the largest consumer of primary energy resources with the highest growth rate among alternate energy use sectors, and is currently responsible for greater than 40% of the global CO2 emissions. Among the renewable energy sources, solar energy is prominent due to its abundance. Here, we introduce an efficient solar thermal power cycle, solar water power (SWP) cycle, with water as the working fluid, which undergoes reheats between expansions. SWP cycle is developed to maximize exergy efficiency, allow flexible operation and process intensification. Simulation and optimization of the SWP cycles are performed in an integrated Aspen Plus/MATLAB modeling environment. Modeling results predict that SWP cycle with 1 solar reheating stage has a potential to generate electricity with sun-to-electricity efficiencies greater than 30% at solar heat collection temperature as low as 750 K. The cycle also promises sun-to-electricity efficiencies in the unprecedented range of 40–46% for the corresponding temperatures above 1400 K. Further efficiency increase is estimated by the addition of more reheating stages.
I have received 2016 AIChE Sustainable Engineering Forum Student Paper Award from Raymond Smith during Sustainable Engineering Forum luncheon on November 16th, 2016 at Anzu Restaurant @ Nikko Hotel, San Francisco, CA.
I have delivered an invited lecture entitled “Energy systems modeling to enable a sustainable economy” as part of the Distinguished Junior Researchers Seminar Series at Northwestern University on February 16, 2016.