Dr. Zayna Al Husseini

Laboratory Scientist
Research and Development Center
Saudi Aramco
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

MIT Department/Faculty Supervisor(s): 

Chemical Engineering, Prof. George Stephanopoulos

Fellowship Dates: 

11/18/2013 to 11/17/2014

Sponsors: 

Saudi Aramco

Biography: 

Zayna AL-Husseini, Ph.D. is a lab scientist at the Research and Development Center (R&DC) in Saudi Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.  Dr. Zayna earned her B.S in Chemi­cal Engineering and M.S in Engineering Management at Northeastern University, Bos­ton, Massachusetts. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of California (UCLA) under the supervision of Prof. Vasilios Manousiouthakis in the area of global reactor optimization.

While at R&DC, Dr. Zayna joined the hydrocarbon conversion group to work on differ­ent projects, such as clean fuels, hydrocarbon conversion, whole crude oil desulfuriza­tion, petrochemical initiative, hydrogen and alternative fuels and many others. 

Research Plan: 

Bio-refinery: Integrated Sustainable Processes for Biomass Conversion to Biomaterials, Biofuels and Fertilizer

The proposed research will conceptually generate and assess novel processes to convert renewable biomass into biofuels, bio-derived materials and fertilizer, using the biore­finery concept. The research will be carried out by groups from the Masdar Institute (MI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working together in an interdisciplinary team.

Being a member of The Process Systems Engineering (PSE), the objective of my task is to provide the integrative framework of PSE, the conceptual design, engineer­ing, and optimization of environmentally and economically sustainable processes for specialty materials and fuels from the renewable resources of algae and municipal solid wastes. The purpose is to develop a novel computer-aided environment, based on the commercial product, aspenONE, of Aspen Technology Inc. The novelty of the proposed computer-aided environment will lie in its ability to integrate diverse skills and knowledge, non-collocated groups of scientists and process engineers, who will collaborate for the balanced design of sustainable bio-refineries and downstream processes. Also, the proposed project will evaluate the viability and sustainability of the approaches investigated for the local (UAE), regional (GCC), and global scale. We propose to do so by conducting a sensitivity analysis for the estimated resources, and a lifecycle assessment for the biomass to specialty materials and biofuel processing pathways. A life cycle assessment includes the product’s complete production system and ultimate disposal, as well as the material and energetic resources required to do so. The outcomes of the assessment include net energy balance, water consumption, material input, and pollutant emissions. In addition, a preliminary techno-economic assessment, based on the conceptual design of the processing systems, including capital and operating costs, cost of inputs and expected value of the co-products, will be conducted to estimate the target ranges for production efficiency at which the processes can become financially viable.