Many potential diversification and conversion options are available for utilization of natural gas resources, and several design configurations and technology choices exist for conversion of natural gas to value-added products. Therefore, a detailed mathematical model is desirable for selection of optimal configuration and operating mode among the various options available. In this study, we present a simulation-optimization framework for the optimal selection of economic and environmentally sustainable pathways for natural gas downstream utilization networks by optimizing process design and operational decisions. The main processes (e.g., LNG, GTL, and methanol production), along with different design alternatives in terms of flow-sheeting for each main processing unit (namely syngas preparation, liquefaction, N2
rejection, hydrogen, FT synthesis, methanol synthesis, FT upgrade, and methanol upgrade units), are used for superstructure development. These processes are simulated using ASPEN Plus V7.3 to determine the yields of different processing units under various operating modes. The model has been applied to maximize total profit of the natural gas utilization system with penalties for environmental impact, represented by CO2eq
emission obtained using ASPEN Plus for each flowsheet configuration and operating mode options. The performance of the proposed modeling framework is demonstrated using a case study.
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