Property Packages

The process industries spend an enormous amount of money (over half a trillion US dollars) to design, build, maintain, improve and troubleshoot chemical plants.  Process modeling has become an essential tool to execute these efforts, and, in turn, process modeling is enabled by models that capture the thermodynamic properties and phase behavior of the various chemical systems, whether they be the feedstocks, products, or undesired impurities. Property Packages contain the model parameters that enable software to accurately simulate the required thermodynamic and physical properties.  Dr. Mathias has over four decades of experience in developing accurate and reliable property databases.

He published a seminal paper alpha functions of equations of state, and has continued to work on this subject.  He recognized the value of human intuition that experts use to anticipate and evaluate the patterns of physical properties.  He uses the fundamentals of thermodynamics to assess the validity of proposed properties and conclusions.  He has educated the applied-thermodynamics community on effective ways to develop property packages for industrial application.  These procedures and practices will ensure that the Property Package developed for your project will perform effectively.

Specialized Unit Models

In a chemical plant, a unit operation is a piece of equipment in the process, e.g., a reactor or absorption column.  In most cases, the capability to simulate these unit operations will be available as an out-of-the-box capability in the commercial simulator.  However, there are several instances where specialized development needs to be done.  For example, a bubble reactor may need to be modeled.  Or, a tailored  kinetic model may be required for an absorber using a novel chemical solvent.  We have the experience and skills to develop practical models for these specialized cases.

Uncertainty Analysis

It is universally recognized by experts that the computer-based design of chemical processes depends strongly on the correlated thermodynamic and transport properties, and the effect of property uncertainties should be propagated into the process design and analysis. Many approaches have been proposed, but uncertainty analysis is not a routine component of today’s industrial practice, mainly because education and awareness is lacking, and the proposed methods are difficult to apply.  We have developed the Margules Uncertainty Method (MUM) method that has the capability to provide practical uncertainty analysis for your process.

Plant Troubleshooting

Process modeling and applied thermodynamics is a powerful in diagnosing and mitigating plant problems.  Dr. Mathias has experience in understanding the root cause of issues such as flammability, fouling and corrosion due to acid and base precipitation, and high-temperature hydrogen attack.

Data Programs

Data is an important pillar of chemical process technology.  The open literature is a rich source of thermophysical property and process data, however there are instances where a targeted data program is needed.  Most of the data programs developed and managed by Dr. Mathias are proprietary.  An open project is the round-robin testing program executed to quantitatively establish the water solubility in CO­2 at low temperature and high pressure.  The paper concluded that “This reliable and established solubility result confirmed the design decision that a dehydration unit for the CO2 product is not required for the ASAP (Alaska Standalone Pipeline) Project, which translated into a cost savings of millions of US dollars.”

Service to the Profession

Dr. Mathias strongly believes that all technologists should contribute to the organizations that nurture our interwoven and interdependent professional infrastructure.  Paul has made significant contributions to professional organizations.  He was elected as an AIChE Fellow in 2015, and served as a Director of the Fuels and Petrochemicals Division (2016-2019).  He has organized and chaired sessions at AIChE, ACS and other technical meetings.  He is an Associate Editor of The Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data, and has been a member of the editorial advisory board of two journals: The Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data (1997-2004) and Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research (1997-2001). 

Service to Professional Organizations

He has served on the advisory board of the chemical engineering departments at four universities: University of Florida (1990-present), University of Illinois at Chicago (2004-present), Texas A&M University (2004-2006), and University of California, Irvine (2012-present). He has served on the Thermodynamics and Transport Properties committee of AIChE (1986-2002; Chair 1999-2000) and serves on the Joint ASME/AIChE Committee on Thermophysical Properties (2001-present, vice chair 2015-), which organizes the triennial Symposium on Thermophysical Properties. He is Fluor’s representative to DIPPR, and currently serves as the Project 801 Technical Lead.  He has participated in global studies to evaluate the issue of data quality and propagation of data uncertainties into process design and plant specifications. He regularly reviews articles for journals such as AIChE Journal, Chemical Engineering Science, I&EC Research, Fluid Phase Equilibria, Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data, Gas Separation & Purification, Fuel, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, and Molecular Systems Design & Engineering.  He was named as one of the outstanding reviewers of Molecular Systems Design & Engineering in 2016.