Miranda Mooijer. Photo: Christian Ove Carlsson

Shell: Trace components come in focus

Miranda Mooijer is Principal Technical Expert and heads the Process Simulation Thermodynamics team at Shell.

“I was here 15 years ago, when I had just been employed at Shell. I am pleased to see that the atmosphere is just as nice. That hasn’t changed, even though the subjects of the conference are obviously very different.”

In her presentation, Miranda Mooijer challenges the CERE researchers and other Discussion meeting participants by presenting problems related to modelling of trace component behavior. As trace components, by definition, occur in low quantities in industrial contexts their behavior is difficult to grasp both experimentally and by modelling.

“Trace components are subject of increasing industrial interest. While they may not seem to impact the behavior of our main products too much, their economic importance can actually be significant,” says Miranda Mooijer, giving mercury as an example. A tiny amount of mercury may contaminate a bulk carrier which then cannot be labelled “mercury free” anymore. This induces economic losses for which the ship owner may hold the energy corporation responsible.

“Several applications of thermodynamic models such as CPA and PC-SAFT touch on multi-phase distribution in a way that is actually applicable to trace component behavior. But I often have the feeling that researchers actually have done the modeling and experiments we need, but we just don’t know how to access their results,” says Miranda Mooijer, while admitting that closing this gap is not solely the responsibility of academia:

“Some of the problems relates to how we communicate in industry. We often need to present our management and colleagues with “flashy” presentations, that do not allow for too many details. For instance, it is quite common that one type of modelling will give the kind of results you hope for, while another type of modelling will show a less optimistic picture. Ideally, I would like to present a balanced picture, but this is difficult when the two types of modelling are done in completely different settings and illustrated very differently. In the world of today it often not possible to present a multitude of pictures and tables that are not directly comparable. So, it would be helpful if researchers could develop more coherent ways of presenting their work.”

At the same time, Miranda Mooijer stresses that the research of CERE is more important than ever:

“I am pleased to see how much progress has been made since I was here 15 years ago. Thermodynamic simulations become ever more important to industry. We see a constant pressure for our production facilities to move closer to the technical boundaries in order to optimize outputs and stay competitive. This demand can only be met by the help of accurate thermodynamic models.”