CIRCE a new software to predict the steady state equilibrium of chemical reactions

Abstract : The objective of this work is to develop a new code to predict the final equilibrium of a complex chemical process with many species/reactions and several phases. Numerical methods were developed in the last decades to predict final chemical equilibria using the principle of minimizing the Gibbs free energy of the system. Most of them use the “Lagrange Multipliers” method and solve the resulting system of equations under the form of an approximate step by step convergence technique. Notwithstanding the potential complexity of the thermodynamic formulation of the “Gibbs problem,” the resulting mathematical formulation is always strongly non-linear so that solving multiphase systems may be very tricky and having the difficult to reach the absolute minimum. An alternative resolution method (MCGE) is developed in this work based on a Monte Carlo technique associated to a Gaussian elimination method to map the composition domain while satisfying the atom balance. The Gibbs energy is calculated at each point of the composition domain and the absolute minimum can be deduced very simply. In theory, the technique is not limited, the Gibbs function needs not be discretised and multiphase problem can be handled easily. It is further shown that the accuracy of the predictions depends to a significant extent on the “coherence” of the input thermodynamic data such the formation Gibbs energy of the species and molecular interaction parameters. The absolute value of such parameters does not matter as much as their evolution as function of the process parameters (pressure, temperature, …). So, a self-consistent estimation method is required. To achieve this, the group contribution theory is used (UNIFAC descriptors) and extended somewhat outside the traditional molecular interaction domain, for instance to predict the Gibbs energy of formation of the species, the specific heat capacity… Lastly the influence of the choice of the final list of products is discussed. It is shown that the relevancy of the prediction depends to a large extent on this initial choice. A first technique is proposed, based on Brignole and Gani‘s work, to avoid omitting species and another one to select, in this list, the products likely to appear given the process conditions. These techniques were programmed in a new code name CIRCE. Brignole and Gani-‘s method is implemented on the basis of the atomic composition of the reactants to predict all “realisable” molecules. The extended group contribution theory is implemented to calculate the thermodynamic parameters. The MCGE method is used to find the absolute minimum of the Gibbs energy function. The code seems to be more versatile than the traditional ones (CEA, ASPEN…) but more expensive in calculation costs. It can also be more predictive. Examples are shown illustrating the breadth of potential applications in chemical engineering.
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Qi Liu. CIRCE a new software to predict the steady state equilibrium of chemical reactions. Chemical and Process Engineering. Université de Technologie de Compiègne, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018COMP2455⟩. ⟨tel-02292905⟩

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