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Oklahoma State University

Clint Aichele

Assistant Professor and Harold Courson Faculty Fellow of Petroleum Engineering

clint.aichele@okstate.edu

For Research page click here

 

ACADEMIC BACKGROUND
Ph.D., Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University, 2009

B.S., Chemical Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 2004

 

MAJOR AREAS OF RESEARCH

Emulsion Formation and Stability

Improved Separations for Algae Fuel Production

Gas Treating

Life Cycle Assessment

 

RECENT RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

Clint Aichele’s interest in performing fundamental and applied research in the area of energy production is rooted in both academic and industry experience in the energy industry. Clint’s graduate research at Rice University focused on characterizing concentrated water-in-oil emulsions with application to methane hydrate formation in crude oil emulsions. He elucidated emulsion formation and stability mechanisms in concentrated crude oil emulsions, and he provided insight about methane hydrate formation mechanisms in concentrated emulsions. At ConocoPhillips, his work focused on developing gas treating strategies for both natural gas and flue gas. His laboratory research focused on the development of solvents for the aqueous amine absorption process, as well as the innovation of novel membranes for gas treating applications. Leveraging his research experience in academia and the energy industry, he will continue research in the area of energy production by addressing the following four key research areas that affect both near term and long term energy production: 1) Emulsion Formation and Stability 2) Improved Separations for Algae Fuel Production 3) Gas Treating 4) Life Cycle Assessment.

 

Emulsion Formation and Stability

Our goal is to develop innovative techniques to manage the behavior of dispersions for large-scale applications in a variety of industries including energy, agriculture, bio-products, and pharmaceuticals. Properly predicting and managing the behavior of the emulsion drop size distributions is imperative to ensure process performance. Many industrial processes, such as the production of crude oil, can lead to the formation of highly stable water-in-oil emulsions due to the presence of a wide range of surface-active materials. Therefore, there is a significant need to improve the fundamental understanding of emulsion formation and stability mechanisms. Our group will develop optical techniques to enhance the characterization of concentrated emulsions and couple that with fundamental measurements of interfacial properties. The primary goals for this work will be the following: 1) Quantify concentrated emulsion formation and stability mechanisms 2) Develop strategies for managing emulsion issues in industrial applications 3) Establish novel separation strategies that reduce the cost of separation for energy production applications.

 

Improved Separations for Algae Fuel Production

Algae presents significant opportunities for fuel production because of the diversity of its products and the fact that it does not compete with food crops. As a result of producing lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins, an array of useful products can be extracted from algae. In addition, algae readily metabolize atmospheric CO2, thereby leading to a potential CO2-neutral fuel source. Large-scale algae fuel production is challenged by the energy intensity of the processing steps including harvesting, dewatering, and extraction. Our group will develop more efficient, scalable separation processes and investigate the use of novel approaches to enhance the speed and extent of lipid separation.

 

Gas Treating

Recent global interest in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels spurred an enormous amount of research focused on removing CO2 from flue gas. At the same time, natural gas production in the United States has increased dramatically. Both applications have significantly increased the need for technological breakthroughs that reduce the cost of removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from gas streams. The most near term and proven technology for accomplishing this goal is aqueous amine absorption, a technology that has been utilized for decades by the natural gas industry. However, additional research is required regarding solvent development and the minimization of the energy penalty of this process. Our group will focus on three core areas: 1) Aqueous amine absorption. 2) Advanced solvent development 3) Membrane development. To accomplish these goals, we will build laboratory capabilities to directly measure the mass transfer of CO2 into liquid solvents to screen and develop more efficient solvents for gas treating. We will also develop a membrane program focused on addressing scale-up issues of membranes for gas treating.

 

Life Cycle Assessment

The biggest challenge to all alternative energy technologies is process economics and scalability. Life cycle assessment (LCA) will be utilized by our group to quantify the full impacts of proposed alternative energy technologies. This work will guide laboratory experiments and focus efforts on scaling up alternative energy concepts such as algae fuel production and the conversion of CO2 to useable products. These conceptual engineering efforts will guide the laboratory development of new technologies and assess their economic viability. This field is inherently interdisciplinary, and provides numerous opportunities for collaboration.

 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

Mathkar, A., Aichele, C., Omole, I., Hashim, D., Singh, N., Ajayan, P.M., “Creating Super-solvophobic Nano-composite Materials,” submitted to Chemistry of Materials, 2012.

Aichele, C.P., Janakiram, H., Rhyne, L., Chapman, W.G., “Characterization of Water-in-Oil Emulsions in a Complex Shear Field,” in preparation, Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal, 2012.

Karpe, P., Aichele, C.P., “Amine Modeling for CO2 Capture – Internals Selection,” in preparation, Chemical Engineering Science, 2012.

Aichele, C.P., Chapman, W.G., Rhyne, L.D., Subramani, H.J., and House, W., “Analysis of Formation of Water-in-Oil Emulsions,” Energy and Fuels, 23, 3674-3680, 2009.

Aichele, C.P., Chapman, W.G., Rhyne, L.D., Subramani, H.J., Montesi, A., Creek, J., and House, W., “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Analysis of Methane Hydrate Formation in Water-in-Oil Emulsions,” Energy and Fuels, 23, 835-841, 2009.

Aichele, C.P., Chapman, W.G., Hirasaki, G.J., Rhyne, L.D., Montesi, A., Creek, J., and House, W., “Characterizing Water-in-Oil Emulsions with Application to Methane Hydrate Formation using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,” Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 6-10, 2008.

Aichele, C.P., Flaum, M., Jiang, T., Hirasaki, G.J., and Chapman, W.G., “Water-in-Oil Emulsion Droplet Size Characterization using a Pulsed Field Gradient with Diffusion Editing (PFG-DE) NMR Technique,” Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 315, 607-619, 2007.

Van Wagener, D., Karpe, P., Aichele, C.P., “Modeling Solvents for Amine-based CO2 Absorption,” AIChE Spring Meeting, 2012, Houston, TX.

Karpe, P., Aichele, C.P., Heald, R., “On the Selection of Mass-Transfer Internals for CO2 Capture by Amines,” AIChE Spring Meeting, 2011, Chicago, IL.

Aichele, C.P., Schuette, G., Compton, S., Karpe, P., and Heald, R., “Aqueous Amine Absorption: Experimentation and Modeling,” CO2 Summit: Technology and Opportunity, 2010, Vail, CO.

Aichele, C.P., House, W., Hirasaki, G.J., Subramani, H.J., Rhyne, L.D., Chapman, W.G., “Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Measure Emulsion Properties in Water-in-Oil Emulsions During Methane Hydrate Formation,” AIChE Annual Meeting, 2008, Philadelphia, PA.

Aichele, C.P., House, W., Hirasaki, G.J., Subramani, H.J., Rhyne, L.D., Chapman, W.G., “Analysis of Formation of Water-in-Oil Emulsions,” AIChE Annual Meeting, 2008, Philadelphia, PA.

Aichele, C.P., Chapman, W.G., Hirasaki, G.J., Rhyne, L.D., Montesi, A., Creek, J., and House, W., “Characterizing Water-in-Oil Emulsions with Application to Methane Hydrate Formation using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,” 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates, 2008, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.