The researchers are now collaborating with experts at Shell to apply the model to a natural gas production system in Malaysia.
Natural gas consumption is expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades. However, in the short term, demand for this clean-burning fuel is highly volatile. Because natural gas is difficult to transport and store, energy companies tend to produce it only when they have buyers lined up and transportation capacity available, generally under long-term contracts. As a result, they miss opportunities for short-term sales, and the overall availability of natural gas is reduced.
Natural gas companies would like to operate their production networks more efficiently and flexibly. But operators can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices to be made and obligations to be met under supply contracts with customers and facility- and production-sharing agreements with other companies.
According to Professor Paul I. Barton of the Department of Chemical Engineering, the only way for a company to optimize such a system-that is, to operate it so as to best meet all obligations, objectives and constraints-is to formulate it as a mathematical problem and solve it.
"If there were just one or two decisions to make, an engineer could do it," he said. "But when you've got 20 valves to set and 50 different constraints to satisfy, it's impossible for a person to see. Computer procedures can take all of that into account."
Barton and chemical engineering graduate student Ajay Selot have spent the past two years developing a mathematical model to help guide operators' decisions one to three months in advance. The model focuses on the "upstream supply chain," that is, the system from the natural gas reservoirs to bulk consumers such as power plants, utility companies and liquefied natural gas plants.
While other models have focused on optimizing individual subsystems, the new MIT model encompasses the whole system. "Ideally, operators would like to make decisions based on information from the entire system," Selot said.
Based on fundamental physical principles, the researchers' model describes gas flow, pressure and composition inside every pipeline in the network. Equations describe how the flow properties change as the gas passes through each facility along the way. The equations interact so the model can track flows and how they mix throughout the system.
To be useful in the real world, the model must also incorporate-in mathematical terms-the rules from all contracts and agreements. For example, what fraction of production must be shared with other companies?
Operational constraints must also be included. How rapidly can gas be withdrawn from a given well? Further, the company must define its goals, such as maximizing production, minimizing total costs or scheduling facilities in a particular way.
The final challenge is to "solve the model" so that it defines the specific operating choices that will best satisfy the stated obligations, constraints and goals. Standard optimization techniques cannot handle such a large and complex model. Selot is therefore refining and extending standard techniques to solve that problem.
He and Barton are now performing a case study of a natural gas production system in Malaysia operated by Sarawak Shell Berhad, Malaysia (SSB). They are working closely with field engineers at SSB and Shell International Exploration and Production, the Netherlands, to build a realistic representation of the Sarawak system-a challenge, as the system is the product of decades of evolution rather than coordinated planning. All of the system's complexity must be reflected in the mathematical model if it is to be of practical value to the Sarawak planners.
This research was supported by Shell International Exploration and Production through MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
Improved stability of plastic light-emitting diodes
19.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung
Intelligent components for the power grid of the future
18.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News