Nikolaos K. Kazantzis, professor of chemical engineering, is collaborating with researchers at Qatar University to develop a strategy to reduce flare emissions and develop technology to use flammable gasses, which are now burned off and wasted at oil and gas extraxtion sites, as potential energy resources. The proposed research program will make use of new process systems engineering, sustainable energy recovery, and resource conservation methods.
The research team received a three-year, $600,000 grant from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a governmental funding organization that supports local and international research. WPI will receive $123,466 of that funding. A gas flare, also known as a flare stack, is a gas combustion device used in industrial plants, such as oil or gas production sites, that burns off flammable gas, either because it is considered waste or to reduce pressure on plant equipment. But gas flares emit methane, sulfur dioxide, and other volatile organic compounds, which exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems. Other emissions are known to be carcinogens. Kazantzis is focused on developing technology to use the excess gas as a fuel source, instead of burning it, and to further minimize emissions from the combustion process by re-designing the overall flare system. He is also working on developing a digital process control and performance monitoring system for the flare stack.