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Incorporation of Sustainability Education into the Ammonia Synthesis Process Design of the Chemical Engineering Senior Design Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Experiential Learning in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Jia Li California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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• Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Wayne State University (GPA 3.98/4.0), 01/2007.
Dissertation: Integrated Product and Process Research: A System Approach to Multiscale Complex Systems.
• M.S., Chemical Engineering, Wayne State University (GPA 3.96/4.0), 2003.
• M.S., Automation (chemical process control), Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2002.
• B.S., Automation (chemical process control), Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 1999.

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Cal Poly Pomona, 2016 – present.
• Teach Process Design and Process Control for senior students.

Process/Project Engineer, Wahlco Inc, Santa Ana, CA, 2014-2016.
• Lead Urea to Ammonia process development.
• Responsible for marketing research review.
• Conduct internal and customer factory acceptance test.
• Design process control system with PLC/DCS implementation.

Project Manager/Senior Engineer, ClearWaterBay Technology Inc. Pomona, CA, 2007-2014.
• Managed a Large-scale Refinery Energy Optimization Project, 2012-2014.
• Major project in process design: 30+ units and 2 utility systems, with both existing unit retrofit and new unit design.
• Responsible for project management and most technical work.
• 9-month on-site work with hand-on experiences.
• Accepted ideas give ~20 million US$ saving per year, which have been implemented into the engineering design.
• Managed a Bio-ethanol Process Development Project, 2011-2012.
• Conducted technical survey for conversion processes of cellulosic biomass to ethanol.
• Identified pros and cons of different routes.
• Performed integrated process simulation/modeling for production of ethanol from corn stover with acid pretreatment.

Technical Department Manager, ClearWaterBay (Beijing) Technology Inc., Beijing, China, 2011-2014.
• Established CWB Beijing Company by interviewing engineers and building up sales group.
• Supported sale work for various professional software and techniques.

Graduate Research Assistant, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 2002-2006.
Summer Intern, Ford Motor Company, Advanced Manufacture Technology Developing Center (AMTD), Dearborn, MI, May-August, 2003.
Process Engineer, Tsingda Smartech Co. Ltd., Beijing, China, 2002.

• Session Chair, Modular Design and Process Intensification, the 9th International Conference on Foundations of Computer-Aided Process Design (FOCAPD), July 14-18, 2019, Copper Mountain, Colorado, USA.
• Co-chair for 2018 AIChE Annual Meeting - Conceptual Process Design in Refining, Petrochemicals and Gas Processing.
• Invited to 2017 SAChE (Safety and Chemical Engineering Education) Faculty Workshop in Richmond, CA, Aug. 2017.
• Invited Speaker for 2017 WanHua Reactor Design Seminar in YanTai, ShanDong, China, June 2017.
• DOE Qualified Steam System Specialist, US Department of Energy, 2009.
• Member, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), 2004-2008.
• Presenter (four times), AIChE National Meeting, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
• Paper Reviewer, Chemical Engineering & Processing and Computers & Chemical Engineering.
• Vice Chair, Fourth Graduate Research Symposium, Wayne State Univ., Detroit, MI, 2004.
• Lab Manager, Lab. for Multiscale Complex Sys. Sci. & Eng., Wayne State Univ., 2005-2007.
• Summer 2006 Dissertation Fellowship, Wayne State Univ., 2006.
• Albort Travel Award, Wayne State Univ., 2005.
• Best Poster Award, Fifth Graduate Research Symposium, Wayne State Univ., 2005.
• Best Presenter Award, Fourth Graduate Research Symposium, Wayne State Univ., 2004.
• Second Prize of Tsinghua Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 1999.
• Second Prize of Tsinghua Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 1998.

1. Li, J., S. Feaster, and A. Kohler, “A Multi-Objective Multi-Technology (MOMT) Evaluation and Analysis Framework for Ammonia Synthesis Process Development”, Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, Volume 47, 2019, Pages 415-420.
2. Li, J., and M. Li, “On-line Bayesian-based Model-set Management Method with Case Study of Steam Reforming Prediction under Various Feed Compositions,” 13th International Symposium on Process Systems Engineering – PSE 2018, July 1-5 2018, Volume 44.
3. Li, J., R. Uttarwar, and Y. L. Huang, “CFD-Based Modeling and Design for Energy-Efficient VOC Emission Reduction in Surface Coating Systems,” Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 15(6), 1023-1032, 2013.
4. Xiao, J., J. Li, C. Piluso, and Y. L. Huang, “Multiscale Characterization of Automotive Surface Coating Formation for Sustainable Manufacturing,” Chinese J. of Chemical Eng., 16(3), 416-423, 2008.
5. Li, J., J. Xiao, Y. L. Huang, and H. H. Lou, “Integrated Process and Product Analysis: A Multiscale Approach to Automotive Paint Spray,” AIChE J., 53(11), 2841-2857, 2007.
6. Li, J., and Y. L. Huang, "Bayesian-based On-line Applicability Evaluation of Neural Network Models with Automotive Paint Spray Application," Computers and Chemical Engineering, 30(9), 1392-1399, 2006.
7. Xiao, J., J. Li, Q. Xu, Y. L. Huang, and H. H. Lou, "Ant Colony System (ACS)–Based Dynamic Optimization for Reactive Drying of Polymeric Coating," AIChE J., 52(4), 2006.
8. Xiao, J., J. Li, Y. L. Huang, and H. H. Lou, "Cure-Window-Based Proactive Quality Control in Reactive Drying of Topcoat," Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 45(7), 2006.
9. Li, J., and D. F. Yang, "A Data Process System based on Embedded System," Process Automation Instrumentation, 23(4), 1-10, 2002.
10. Li, J., and D. F. Yang, "Introducing the Technology of Ethernet into Fieldbus is an Inevitable Trend," Process Automation Instrumentation, 22(5), 1-5, 2001.

1. Jia Li, An Integrated Evaluation Method with Application to a New Ammonia Synthesis Process Design, 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting at Orlando, FL., Nov. 2019.
2. Jia Li, A Multi-Objective Multi-Technology (MOMT) Framework to Evaluate Various Ammonia Synthesis Processes, 2018 AIChE Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, Oct. 2018.
3. Jia Li, Andrew Kohler, Samuel Feaster, Julia Cappa, Derek Herrera, Carlos Munoz, and Armen Gumrikyan, On-line Bayesian-based Model-set Management Method with Case Study of Steam Reforming Prediction with COMSOL Simulation, AAAS 99th Annual Meeting Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, California, June 12-15, 2018. (Poster)
4. Jia Li, Energy Saving from Process Design – a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Methodology, 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, Oct. 2017.

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Sustainability has become a key subject in chemical engineering (ChE) practice, largely due to the challenges such as natural resource depletion, greenhouse gas emission, economic globalization, increasingly stringent environmental regulation, etc. To incorporate the concept into ChE education, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has listed sustainability as a crucial element in engineering curricula and stated that “Engineering programs must demonstrate that their students attain an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability”. The senior capstone process design course is a key educational component to fulfill the goal, as it could incorporate subjects such as sustainable resources, biomass, energy efficiency, design standards and regulations, process safety, etc.

In this paper, three approaches have been implemented into the Process Synthesis and Design II to address the challenges in sustainability education: (1) introduce the wind-based water electrolysis technology into ammonia synthesis design, in addition to the traditional CF-Braun technology, (2) extend the techno-economic analysis to incorporate emission penalty, renewable resource credit, transportation cost, modular manufacturing discount, as well as safety/control concerns, and (3) invite industrial experts to the final presentation and review the design from various aspects.

After two years implementation, it has demonstrated that the students could gain the insights of the new sustainable process technologies more effectively. By comparing the designs with extended assessment method, the students could study the pros and cons in a broader scope with quantitative results. Introducing the industrial review panel would help the students to gain experience and increase their visibility to the job market. As a result, the new teaching efforts have fulfilled the ABET’s requirements and been highly evaluated by the students’ evaluation and reviewers’ comments.

Li, J. (2021, July), Incorporation of Sustainability Education into the Ammonia Synthesis Process Design of the Chemical Engineering Senior Design Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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