Mert Atilhan received a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Ege University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Dr. Atilhan is a member from Qatar University and he is an Associate Professor at Qatar University in Department of Chemical Engineering. Dr. Atilhan is also an Adjunct Professor at Texas A&M University at Qatar in Department of Chemical Engineering. He has more than 10 years of experience in applied thermodynamics energy and environmental related topics. His research activities are mainly focused on very high accuracy property measurements including PVT-density-viscosity, equation of sate development for pure and mixture gases, VLE systems, natural gas hydrate equilibrium and inhibition, iomnic liquids properties and various engineering applications, such as development of high-stability and high-capacity novel CO2 capture sorbents at both pre- and post-combustion conditions and gas mixture separations including olefin/paraffin and CO2/CH4/N2 separation through various membranes. Dr. Atilhan has authored more than 65 publications in the mentioned areas and he secured more than $8 million research funding through various funding agencies in Qatar, the United States, and the European Union since 2007. He was honored as “The Best Researcher of the Year Award” at Qatar University in 2008 and 2011.
CO2 Capture Project:
Cyanuric Organic Polymers (COPs) for Inexpensive and High Efficiency CO2 Capture and Separation
Within Qatar, oil and gas still account for more than 50 percent of GDP, roughly 85 percent of export earnings, and 70 percent of government revenues. These resources have recently made Qatar the number one highest per-capita income country and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With proven reserves of natural gas at nearly 26 trillion cubic meters, natural gas based processes will endure to be a foremost source of revenue for Qatar into the foreseeable and sustainable future. As the prime supplier of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)—a fossil fuel source with subsequent implications in CO2 emissions and climate change—Qatar needs to address CO2 emissions due to natural gas usage. At present-day the commercialization of natural gas is commonly achieved through LNG and mega investments through Gas to Liquids (GTL) technologies. Yet, the Qatari natural gas reservoir, which comes out of the largest non-associated gas reservoir in the world, called North field, contains very sour natural gas (with high acid gas content) but rich in methane, and thus LNG production is the most suitable choice for gas exporting. The production of LNG requires drastic reduction of sour gases, mainly in the elimination of sulfur content (in the form of H2S) by sweetening, and acid gas treatment by removing CO2 from the main stream. Given the global concerns increasingly stringent regulations require more than 99 percent recovery solutions for new gas projects. Therefore, novel solutions through better environmental and technological performance and self-sustainable solutions are required without entailing higher operational costs.
In this project we are working on producing effective CO2 capture materials applicable to both pre- and post-combustion streams using solid-state adsorbents. Replacement of existing technologies that use liquid chemistry can only be realized by manufacturing smartly and effectively engineered and designed chemical structures, those that are suitable for existing process conditions. This project aims in part to address the required chemistry and the essential engineering needed to provide the Qatari natural gas industry with practical solutions and the associated competitive advantages in the development of new gas processing and treatment technologies. The proposed strategies and materials include porous frameworks specific to porous polymers (i.e., cyanuric*), which will create a range of support industries for the manufacture of the adsorbent materials and other required ancillary equipment as well as operation and maintenance. In this work we work at wide temperature and pressure ranges to cover the application possibilities of interest.
*Cyanuric organic polymers (COPs) can be best described as porous polymers that contain a wholly organic framework where repeating monomers of core and linkers form the extended structure. Core is a triazine molecule (C3N3) and linkers vary by their functional groups, such as amines, alcohols, and thiols.
Gas Hydrates Project:
Avoiding Gas Hydrate Problems in Qatar’s Oil and Gas Industry: An Integrated Experimental and Modeling Approach
Natural gas hydrates are solid substances that consist of gas molecules captured in a mesh cage system made of water molecules and whose formation/stability depend on mixture composition, temperature, and pressure. When the constituents of gas hydrates come into contact with each other at high pressure and low temperature conditions, they form solid structures called hydrates. Natural gas hydrates are fascinating components and they can easily form during both start-up/shut-down, causing operational, occupational, and economical consequences that require substantial investments, approximately up to 15 percent of the production cost for prevention. For these reasons, flow assurance management is essential for successful and sustainable operation of oil and gas production both technically and economically. In this project, we investigate the natural gas hydrate formation characteristics of Qatari type gas in both experimental (PVTx) and computational (molecular simulations), and we:
- Measure hydrate equilibrium curve and hydrate growth/dissociation conditions for multi-component systems (with and without H2S and CO2 in the mixture).
- Determine the performance of several kinetic and thermodynamic hydrate inhibitors.
- Design and test of novel inhibitors for effective hydrate inhibition suitable for Qatari natural gas.
- Design suitable monitoring techniques for minimizing inhibitor costs while maximizing reliability of hydrate prevention strategy (digital fields).
Ionic Liquids Project:
Development and Validation of Novel Ionic Liquids for Effective CO2 Capture
The capture of CO2 from flue gases derived from fossil fueled power plants and the absorption of CO2/H2S for natural gas sweetening purposes are two relevant industrial problems with important environmental, economical, and technological impacts. Amine-based technologies are widely used in the industry for these purposes, but lead to problems that have led many researchers to pose new alternatives. Ionic liquids (ILs) have emerged in the last years as promising new acid gases absorbents, and thus, this remarkable interest, both in industry and academia, have led to a large collection of experimental and theoretical studies in which the most important aspects of absorption process are analyzed. A very promising alternative for CO2/H2S capture, both for flue gases and gas sweetening purposes, is the use of IL as absorbents. Since the physical and chemical properties of room-temperature ILs could be enhanced and modified by both their cationic and their anionic moieties they serve a broad range of applications such as solvents, sensors, solid-state photocells, thermal and hydraulic fluids, lubricants, and several analytical techniques including mass spectrometry, separation techniques, and electrochemistry. Therefore, considering that IL properties can be tailor-designed to satisfy the specific application requirements such as CO2 capture, and in minor extension for H2S, they have great potential for substituting current problematic CO2 capture technologies. To address the above-mentioned goals, this project conducts specific tasks in both laboratory and molecular simulation environments, such as:
- Screen a large amount of possible candidates for CO2 capture.
- Study of novel ILs with attractive properties: good solvency, high ionic conductivity, low viscosity, low corrosion ability, and heat transfer properties.
- Adjust ILs properties by compositional variation, via computational chemistry screening, and select the most suitable.
- Test ILs in lab scale and technical scale to understand their properties.
- Test the ILs capture system at a pilot plant for several fuels: anthracite and other coal ranks, biomass, natural gas, etc.
- Integrate ionic liquids technology to reduce and optimize the use of energy in the capture process.
TEE Lab – Thermodynamics for Energy and Environment
Dr. Atilhan has state-of-the-art research laboratory located in Qatar University campus and laboratory shelters equipment that covers gas/liquid sorption measurements, such as gas hydrates measurements, membrane separation measurements for gas mixtures, thermodynamic properties measurement equipment and other required in-situ characterization equipment.
Laboratory houses the following equipment:
- High pressure gas sorption equipment, Rubotherm: up to 350 bar and operates between 0–100°C.
- Gas hydrate autoclave (3 cells): operations up to 200 bar and operates between −50–250°C.
- Gas hydrate rocking cell (5 cells): operations up to 200 bar and operates between −50–250°C.
- Gas mixture separation membrane unit: operations up to 100 bar (trans membrane pressure difference 10 bar) and operations between 0–100°C.
- Gas densimeter, Rubotherm: up to 350 bars and operates between −25–150°C.
- Gas densimeter, Anton Paar: up to 200 bars and operates between −25–150°C.
- Liquid densimeter, Anton Paar: atmospheric and operates 0–50°C.
- Liquid viscometer, Anton Paar: atmospheric and operates 0–50°C.
- Various autoclaves and reaction cells for high pressure and wide temperature applications.
- Characterization equipment: XRD, TGA, FTIR, GCMS.