Victor J. LawVictor J. Law
AIChE Fellow, IChemE Fellow,
Chartered Engineer, UK and Europe,
Registered Professional Engineer, Louisiana

Phone: (504) 865-5773

323 Lindy Boggs Building
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA 70118-5674

Research Interests

Thermochemical Cycles for Hydrogen via Water Splitting, Parameter Estimation in Complex Systems, Butanol as an Alternative Fuel

Through collaboration with researchers at Penn State University, South Carolina University and Argonne National Labs, we are developing processes for several thermochemical cycles that have the potential for efficiencies higher than those obtained through direct electrolysis of water. This work focuses specifically on electrochemical processes and technologies common to cycles of interest (in particular the Copper-Chloride and the Calcium-Bromide cycles). The process modeling and flowsheet construction and analysis expertise provided by Tulane researchers will be used to guide the experimental work performed at the collaborating institutions. This work is supported by a three-year grant from DOE.

Process models often contain unknown parameters that are usually determined by regression methods using experimental data. The traditional technique to determine the parameters involves a nested approach where the parameter estimation algorithm requires a full simulation using the process model when function evaluations are required. A new simultaneous approach has been developed where the parameter estimation objective function (most often a sum of squares of residuals) is minimized and the process model equations (algebraic and/or differential equations) are solved in parallel. When model function evaluations are very time-consuming the simultaneous approach can offer large computational savings.

Another new and powerful method for parameter estimation has been developed by our group. This involves the use of Sliding Mode Observers, a methodology borrowed from control theory. Applications so far have involved parameter estimation for the Monod biokinetics model, which is known to be a difficult parameter estimation problem. Future plans include the use of Sliding Mode Observers for such problems as leak detection in pipelines and problems involving both parameter estimation and estimation of non-measurable system states.

Butanol is a substantially more desirable alternative fuel than ethanol. Its energy content is close to that of gasoline and it is not a desiccant so that water contamination and corrosion issues are not present as with ethanol. A Tulane group consisting of researchers from Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry and the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology are combining expertise to work on butanol production and purification from primarily cellulosic waste materials.

300 Lindy Boggs Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, T: 504-865-5772, F: 504-865-6744