PDF - A Process Integration Approach of CO2 Sequestration to Marketable Products - AB-041

Preferred Disciplines: Chemical engineering (Post-Doc)
Project length: 2 years (6 units) 
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Edmonton, AB
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: Post-doc must be willing to relocate to Edmonton, Alberta to work with Professor Natalia Semagina at the University of Alberta
Company: Enerkem

About Company:

Enerkem produces clean fuels and green chemicals from waste with better economics and greater sustainability than other technologies relying on fossil sources.

Enerkem’s disruptive technology converts non-recyclable municipal solid waste (i.e. garbage) into clean fuels and renewable chemicals.

Enerkem Alberta Biofuels is the world’s first commercial biorefinery to use municipal solid waste to produce methanol and ethanol. This facility is the result of more than 10 years of efforts to scale up Enerkem’s technology from pilot and demonstration, to full commercial scale.

Project Description:

The catalytic CO2 reforming process provides a sequestration alternative that holds promise for a viable solution for dealing with industrial gaseous effluents containing greenhouse gases CH4 and CO2. The process converts these gases to syngas (CO and H2) which can be used for synthesis for high value chemicals. Further, the syngas produced from this process can be used for an environment friendly alternative route for carbonylation step utilizing bio-based methanol/DME that could lead to higher value products ranging from acetic acid to acrylic acid. The final project deliverable would be an integrated process flow diagram (PFD) with stream tables with materials and energy balance with performance as indicated and reduces the green house emissions as projected. 

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

  • Designing and fabricating a small bench scale reactive distillation unit
  • Determination on the number of distillation and separation columns and an estimate on water recycle
  • Process intensification on simultaneous hydrolysis and dehydration of esters and alcohols respectively
  • Design and fabrication of small scale catalytic distillation unit
  • Catalysis and regeneration of zeolite and generation of longer time-on-stream data
  • Generate the operating data for an integrated process flow diagram (PFD) with stream tables, water balances, materials and energy balances


  • To be determined

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering or related fields with a sound understanding and demonstration of applying fundamental scientific and engineering principles to specific reactions that may have been studied during the thesis work or in industrial work carried out by the applicant. The initial appointment must occur within maximum five years from the completion of a doctoral degree;
  • 3+ years of relevant R&D or work experience in a pilot plant facility on clean energy, chemicals and fuel sector;
  • Good understanding of catalysis, catalyst characterization and catalyst systems applications, design and execution of experiments as well as bench/pilot reactor system design and fabrication and separation techniques such as reactive distillation;
  • Develop kinetic and reactor models as well as process integration models for scale-up using Aspen HYSYS and Aspen Plus and other advanced process modeling tools;
  • Understanding technical and economic implications of novel process technologies on industrial processes with cost estimation experience;
  • Evidence of scientific accomplishment via peer-reviewed publications;
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work in a team / collaborative environment are required.

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.