Environmental Monitoring of Hydrocarbons using a Selective, Sensitive and Trainable Electronic BTEX Sensing Platform Integrating Nanoporous Polymer Receptors and Carbon Nanotubes
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Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are ubiquitous and represent a substantial threat to human health and safety. Monitoring the ambient concentration of VOCs, particularly benzene, toluene, ethylbenzenes, and xylenes (BTEX vapors), is an urgent imperative with implications for clean indoor air quality, workplace safety, manufacturing design, and pollution prevention. BTEX compounds are produced primarily from the catalytic reforming of naphtha or the steam cracking of hydrocarbons and represent an important entry point to the production of various petrochemicals. BTEX contamination of water and air occurs from various sources including: emission from refineries, inadvertent release during transportation of aromatic condensates, eventual degradation of petrochemical products such as synthetic fibers, and combustion of fossil fuels. Qatar petroleum has officially announced a joint venture with the private sector (Total), for the construction of a $1.5 billion condensate refinery at Ras Laffan. The oil and gas news (OGN) industryâ s weekly energy journal covering the Middle East, Asia/Pacific Rim as well as the global markets reported that â The Ras Laffan plant will have a production capacity of 60,000 bpd of naphtha; 53,000 bpd of jet fuel; 24,000 bpd of gas oil; and 9,000 bpd of liquid petroleum gas(LPG) and Occidental (Oxy) has extended the field development program, as a result this will lead to the recovery of additional 145 million gross barrels (bbl) of oil.â [http://www.oilandgasnewsworldwide.com/Article/37104/Downstream_focus_for_QP].The commissioning of a new naphtha and aromatics unit at the Ras Laffan refinery in Qatar and the proposed massive increase in volume of naphtha and aromatic shipments from Qatar to Asia projected in 2017 render sensitive detection of BTEX an urgent imperative. Monitoring environmental BTEX concentrations is imperative within Qatar both in extractive and refining environments, during transportation of petrochemicals and precursors from Qatar, and at the point of end use of the petrochemicals both within and outside of Qatar. The establishment of environmental monitoring capabilities for BTEX is essential for improving the safety and quality of life in Qatar and other areas with extensive oil & gas exploration and processing (Figure 1) as well as in urban areas plagued by high amounts of vehicular pollution. Despite increasing public health concerns, detection of these toxic and carcinogenic compounds relies on expensive and elaborate laboratory instrumentation, precluding a real-time mapping of the distribution and environmental transport of these compounds. The absence of a detection infrastructure has frustrated mitigation strategies that could considerably improve the safety of manufacturing and chemical processing environments as well as the quality of life of consumers. The limitations of current detection technologies in monitoring BTEX represents a major failing of the worldwide fossil fuel infrastructure. The teamâ s mission is to bring together selective supramolecular recognition with a manufacturable carbon nanotube (CNT)-based chip platform and â big dataâ analytics to develop a highly selective and sensitive handheld sensor for BTEX monitoring. The outcomes of our proposed work will have significant impact for Qatar from the financial and environmental benefits arising from the full commercialization of this technology. The platform will represent a transformative advance for the global energy infrastructure and will enable ubiquitous real-time remote monitoring of BTEX concentrations within drilling, industrial, transportation, and residential environments. The research plan will be structured in different phases. The experimental plan and methods will involve a close collaboration between the PIs and our industrial partners to execute the research work with significant impact.........