Virginia Tech® home



ChE Faculty and students publish two new textbooks



February 2018 The first 571-page textbook, Petroleum Refinery Process Modeling: Integrated Optimization Tools and Applications, Wiley-VCH, is written by Professor Liu and his graduate students, Ai-Fu Chang and Kiran Pashikanti. It is a pioneering and comprehensive guide to predictive modeling of integrated refinery reaction and fractionation systems for process optimization and production planning. It has received excellent reviews and strong endorsements by top academic expert and industrial practitioner in petroleum refining and process optimization, Professor Lawrence Evans of MIT and Mr. Steven Cope, ExxonMobil's refining director for North America.

The second, 408-page textbook, Design, Simulation and Optimization of Adsorptive and Chromatographic Separations, Wiley-VCH, is written by Professor Liu and his graduate students, Kevin Wood and Yueying Yu. It is a comprehensive resource that integrates fundamental principles, industrial applications, and hands-on workshops and practice problems of commercial software tools for the design, simulation and optimization of adsorptive and chromatographic separations, such as PSA (pressure swing adsorption), TSA (temperature swing adsorption), and SMB (simulated moving bed) chromatography. The book is strongly endorsed by Dr. George Keller, chief engineer of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center, S. Charleston, WV, a top industrial expert in separation science and technology and an inventor of PSA for medical oxygen generation.

Pump Sizing and Selection Made Easy

Two senior students taking the design course in spring 2017, Joey Sarver and Blake Finkenauer, together with their instructor, Professor Y. A. Liu, have published a featured article, "Pump Sizing and Selection Made Easy" (, in the January 2018 issue of the Chemical Engineering Magazine, the most popular monthly for practicing chemical engineers.

Many aspiring chemical engineers enter industry after university without sufficient practical knowledge about how to properly size a pump. Viscosity, power consumption, commercial availability, and lifecycle cost analysis are all important considerations in pump sizing and selection. There is currently no other published article nor textbook section comparable to this article that gives a simple and complete instruction of all practical aspects of pump sizing and selection, together with an automated Excel spreadsheet to implement the necessary sizing calculations ( This article will be useful to chemical engineering design faculty and students, in addition to practicing chemical engineers.

According to Scott Jenkins, senior editor of Chemical Engineering Magazine, this articles has already generated significant reader interest since its publication online on January 1.

A breakthrough in developing a process for capturing CO2 from power plant flue gas that consumes the least solvent regeneration energy (1.67 GJoule/tonne CO2 captured) yet reported in the literature and patents (U. S. patent publication number US2017/01971175 A1, July 13, 2017; PCT filed June 5, 2015):

For reference, please see: Stuart J. Higgins and Y. A. Liu, "CO2 Capture Modeling, Energy savings, and Heat Pump Integration", Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 54 , 2526-2553 (2015). (


While chemical engineers have designed amine-based CO2 capture systems since 1927, concern over anthropomorphic climate change sparked renewed interest in the 1980s. Subsequent research has led to significant advances such as well-fit property and thermodynamic models, rigorous models for unit operations, and improved process designs. The aim of this work is to summarize proposed process improvements and energy-saving schemes, including absorber intercooling, stripper interheating, stripper condensate rerouting, distributed cross heat exchanger, flash stripper, multipressure stripper, and heat pump integration. We present simulation examples demonstrating that energy-saving schemes must be considered together because of strong and complex interactions. We report an optimal process design integrating all of these improvements in Aspen Plus V8.5, and then evolutionally simplify the design through simulation results. In particular, we propose an optimum energy-saving design that uses an absorption-driven heat pump together with a distributed cross heat exchanger and a stripper vapor condensate rerouting to reduce both the cooling and the heating utility consumptions. The resulting predicted solvent regeneration energy is an absorption-driven heat pump for waste heat recovery with a predicted solvent regeneration energy of 1.67 (GJt/tonne CO2 captured). To our knowledge, this is the lowest solvent regeneration energy yet reported in the literature or patents.

Companies Sponsor Center of Excellence in Chemical Engineering

Y.A. Liu


Read article here.

Chemical engineering faculty member Y.A. Liu wins Virginia Professor of the Year honor

Featured cover story, Chemical Engineering Magazine, "Water-Saving Strategies for the CPI"



Professor Y. A. Liu has published a featured cover story, "Water-Saving Strategies for the CPI", in the May 2012 issue of the Chemical Engineering Magazine, the most popular monthly for practicing chemical engineers (

This article describes the methodology used in large water-saving projects that Professor Liu has led in global top ten chemical companies (SINOPEC and Formosa Plastics Group), as well as proven technologies implemented. In addition to improved water management and better use of water-saving technology, the ultimate success of water-saving projects at these large facilities depend on strong support from senior-level corporate executives and production managers, corporate-wide training of project teams, and a broad effort to promote corporate-wide enthusiasm for water savings.

Professor Liu gives an invited keynote opening address at 2011 Annual Conference of the Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China, Zhengzhou, Henan, on "Strategies and Experiences for Promoting Water Savings and Wastewater Minimization in Global Top Ten Chemical Companies"

( in Chinese)


ChE Student and Faculty Published a Significant Article on Biodiesel Process Modeling and Product Design

Ai-Fu Chang, a chemical engineering doctoral student, and his advisor, Professor Y. A. Liu, have made substantial progress on biodiesel modeling research in 2009. Their 17-page paper, "Integrated Process Modeling and Product Design of Biodiesel Manufacturing", appears as an invited paper to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the top scholarly journal, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. This publication brings significant recognition to Virginia Tech as a leading institution of biodiesel modeling research. I&EC Research published a total of more than 2500 papers in 2008 and 2009, and only 20 papers are invited and designated as 100th anniversary articles in these two years, accented by a red banner. See