Mapping Anthropogenic Carbon Mobilization through Chemical Process and Manufacturing Industries

Amrita Sen, George Stephanopoulos, Bhavik R. Bakshi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The long-term impact of global warming and the resulting climate crisis, brought about by human-induced emission of greenhouse gases, is an imminent environmental concern. The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to below 2° C over pre-industrial levels, to curb this impact. Meeting this limit necessitates reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, which imply no net transport of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The chemical process industry along with associated manufacturing industries such as iron and steel, cement and aluminum contributes significantly towards global carbon dioxide emissions. Mapping the precise routes of Carbon mobilization is the first step towards establishment of a sustainable, circular and Carbon neutral chemical industry. There exist no C flow models for aforementioned energy intensive industries. Current published literature also does not account for C mobilized to meet the energetic needs of global chemical processes. They also do not account for the emissions offset by material exchange between different production processes. In this work, we develop a steady state model of Carbon flow through chemical process and associated industries. Our model traces the flow of carbon from fossil feedstock, to energy carriers and chemical intermediates, and finally valuable products, by-products and emissions. This model makes use of process data, life-cycle inventories models developed by existing studies on the chemical and petrochemical industries, government databases, greenhouse gas emissions data and economy models. Fundamental laws like mass and energy balance are used in conjunction with stoichiometric calculations to estimate missing data and reconcile incorrect data. We represent this model as a Sankey Diagram to better facilitate visualization of the process network and identify scope of process improvement. We elaborate how this model helps the placement of process alternatives such as use of renewables, electrification, green hydrogen and carbon capture and storage in the value chain. These alternatives can be highly energy intensive, requiring a large amount of “net zero” electricity to function. The dependence of renewably sourced electricity on land area availability necessitates its efficient use. Thus, the integration of fossil alternatives in the model paves the path for their targeted and optimal usage towards decarbonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComputer Aided Chemical Engineering
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameComputer Aided Chemical Engineering


  • Decarbonization
  • Modelling
  • Supply chain
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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