Rochelle Wins Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology Award

Professor Gary T. Rochelle, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Chemical EngineeringProfessor Gary T. Rochelle has been recognized for his fundamental work in carbon capture with the 2012 Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).  Technology developed by Rochelle could play a major role in reducing the world’s carbon footprint and global warming.

The award recognizes Rochelle’s innovative work to develop a concentrated piperazine solvent to separate carbon dioxide (C0¬2) from combustion gases utilizing amine absorption/stripping.  His work has demonstrated that concentrated piperazine absorbs carbon dioxide twice as fast and at double the capacity of monoethanolamine, the current state-of-the-art carbon capture solvent.  The solvent is regenerated by steam heating at 300oF to produce pure pressurized C0¬2  that can be stored in underground brine formations or used for enhanced oil recovery.

Every year approximately 30 billion tons of C0¬2 are released into the atmosphere, leading to global warming as C0¬2 traps heat.  Rochelle’s technology will capture 90 percent of C0¬2  emissions from a coal-fired power plant.  This process is an important element of the technology for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“Gary has recognized steadfastly that absorption technology is highly likely to remain the preferred approach for large-scale removal and recovery of carbon dioxide,” said Judson King, provost and senior vice president, emeritus of the University of California and professor emeritus of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  “His work is a clear and impressive case of persistence and well-designed academic research leading to a major innovation addressing one of the largest needs of our time.”

Almost half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. The fossil fuel provides nearly 50 percent of electricity in the United States and 80 percent of China’s and India’s power.  With energy demands rising and no significant alternative to fossil fuels, CCS is set to be a key component in protecting the environment.

“This ground-breaking work has significantly reduced the potential costs and energy burdens that will be associated with carbon capture, and has made Professor Rochelle the recognized global leader in this area,” said Roger T. Bonnecaze, department chair and T. Brockett Hudson Professor in UT Austin’s Department of Chemical Engineering.  “Based on his record of innovation, he’s a deserving candidate for this honor.”

The award, which is sponsored by Praxair, Inc., will be presented at an honors ceremony at AIChE’s 2012 Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on Sunday, October 28.

Rochelle received a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1971 and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1977.  He leads UT Austin’s Luminant Carbon Management Program, a joint research venture in CCS with more than 30 industrial sponsors, and has supervised more than 100 graduate students.



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