Optimizing a Methanol Production Process

Muhammad Abduhu and Cheryl Pearce
Case revision date: 
6 pages (Case Study)

The Chemical Engineering Reaction Engineering Lab, at the University of Waterloo, studies viable energy sources to replace the dependency on petroleum. The main focus is to develop alternative sources of hydrogen fuel using various methods.  Hydrogen can be produced from natural gas by dry reforming and partial oxidation of methane. In some cases it is attractive and viable to convert hydrogen to liquid fuels such as methanol.  Methanol is in demand as feedstock for chemical production, biodiesel production, and to generate electricity.    The Reaction Engineering Lab studied through simulation a methanol production plant from landfill gas at a company’s request using the model for a methanol production plant as illustrated in Figure 1.

Model for Ethanol Production

Muhammad Abduhu, a co-op student from the University of Waterloo, was asked to investigate ways to optimize and improve this simulation for the production of methanol by analyzing the energy requirements of each component of the system. 

Learning objectives: 

The teaching objective is to facilitate decision making skills for process flowsheet design and optimization through simulation.  The case study is intended to introduce students to AspenPlus software.  The case can potentially be used in CHE 290/291 (Chemical Engineering computer laboratory), or CHE 480 (Process Analysis and Design) courses.

Key words: 
Process Flowsheet; AspenPlus: Process Simulation; Methanol Production
CEAB attributes: 
Individual and Team Work; Problem Analysis; Investigation; Design
Module 01 - Case Study
Module 02 – Design Improvements(Restricted to educators)
Module 03 – Design Optimization (Restricted to educators)
Module TN - Teaching Note (Restricted to educators )

Request This Case!

If you would like to see more information on this case study, click here

You can request this case study and a WCDE staff member will get back to you.