Dr. Hill’s research is in the area of catalysis with applications to fuel cells, hydrotreating, gasification, and the conversion of solid waste materials, such as petroleum coke and biomass, into catalyst supports and activated carbon, which can be used to clean up gas and liquid exhaust streams. The spent activated carbon can then be gasified to produce gaseous products, including hydrogen that can be used for hydrotreating and in fuel cells.
“What if waste wasn’t?” is a question that requires careful consideration. Although it appears attractive to convert waste into valuable products, the technical and economic feasibility of any conversion process must be carefully analyzed. Gasification is a process in which solids and liquids are converted to gases but unlike combustion, in which the products are carbon dioxide and water, the products are a mixture of mainly hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This mixture can be used to run an engine to produce power or chemically converted to make other fuels in a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process. Contaminants in the waste may impact the gasification process by deactivating catalysts, which are substances that increase the rates of reaction, and/or forming species that damage the process equipment (e.g., through corrosion). The additional units required to remove the contaminants, either up- or downstream may make the process economically unfavourable, as may the cost to transport the feed and products. This presentation will discuss the various waste streams available in Canada, the potential technical challenges of using these streams, and the techno-economic analysis of a few scenarios.
Dr. Josephine Hill is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She received her education and training at the University of Waterloo (BASc and MASc) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (PhD) and worked for two years at Surface Science Western at the University of Western Ontario between her graduate degrees. Dr. Hill’s research is in catalysis with applications to partial upgrading, gasification, microwave treatment, and the conversion of solid waste materials, such as petroleum coke and biomass, into catalysts supports and activated carbon. She is currently the President of the Canadian Catalysis Foundation, the Vice-chair of the Chemical Institute of Canada, and an Editor of Applied Catalysis A: General. Her research and mentoring excellence have been recognized with many awards including the APEGA Research Excellence Summit Award, a Killam Annual Professorship, Engineers Canada Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession, a Canada Research Chair, and the Canadian Catalysis Lectureship Award. She is a Fellow of The Engineering Institute of Canada, Chemical Institute of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Engineers Canada.