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  • Publication
    Is the Growing Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in India Preventable?
    (2024-06-19) Gaiha, Raghav
    Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) morbidity and mortality as shares of total morbidity and mortality have risen steadily in India and projected to surge rapidly. In 1990, NCDs accounted for 40% of all Indian mortality and are now projected to account for three quarters of all deaths by 2030. Currently, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory illness, and diabetes are the leading causes of death in India, accounting for almost 50% of all deaths. Underlying these rising shares are growing risks that are common to several NCDs. NCDs are chronic in nature and take a long time to develop. They are linked to aging and affluence and have replaced infectious diseases and malnutrition as the dominant causes of ill health and death in much of the world including India. Some NCDs cause others and create clusters of co-morbid conditions (e.g., diabetes can lead to kidney failure and blindness). Old-age morbidity is a rapidly worsening curse in India. The swift descent of the elderly in India (60 years +) into non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes) could have disastrous consequences in terms of impoverishment of families, excess mortality, lowering of investment and deceleration of economic growth. Indeed, the government must deal simultaneously with the rising fiscal burden of NCDs and substantial burden of infectious diseases. The present study seeks to answer three questions: Why has the prevalence of two NCDs, diabetes and heart diseases risen in recent years? Given the surge in these diseases, whether social protection policies and restructuring of medical services can mitigate such surges in the near future? A related but equally important concern is whether lifestyle and dietary changes could be induced to further prevent the rising burden of these NCDs. Our analysis is based on the only all-India panel survey-India Human Development survey that covers 2005 and 2012. This survey was conducted jointly by University of Maryland and National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. A robust econometric methodology-specifically, 2SLS- is used to address the endogeneity of key explanatory variables. The results here stress the need to make sure that pension and healthcare reforms are accompanied by greater awareness, expansion of old age pensions and public hospitals, and effective regulation of both public and private hospitals. Key words: NCDs, Diabetes, Heart diseases, Old age and other pensions, Hospitals, India
  • Publication
    Production of ATJ-SPK From Ethanol Feedstock
    (2024-06-18) Sheldon, Jacob
    In 2021, the U.S. government released the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, which pledges a goal of supplying sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to meet 100% of fuel demand by 2050. SAF currently makes up less than 0.1% of the total jet fuel industry and is nearly twice as expensive as jet fuel sold from a typical refinery (FAA, 2022). There are currently nine SAF production pathways that have been approved by ASTM, one of which is known as Alcohol-to-Jet-Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK). A 2019 white paper by Gevo outlines the principles of ATJ-SPK, where starchy alcohols are converted to isobutanol, which is then converted to paraffinic kerosene through well-established processes of dehydration, oligomerization, and hydrogenation (Gevo, 2019). An ATJ-SPK plant was designed with the intention of exploring the environmental and economic viability of a pure ethanol feed. To date, most developed ATJ-SPK plants have an isobutanol feed. The designed plant follows the three established steps: dehydration, oligomerization, and hydrogenation. For ethanol dehydration, Ni-HZSM-5 catalyst was used to convert ethanol to ethylene. The oligomerization and hydrogenation steps were both accomplished using two reactors in series with two unique catalysts. This design decision was made to target reactions in the C9-C16 range, ideal for kerosene jet fuel. For the first and second oligomerization reactors, Ni-H-β and Al2O3/SiO3 catalysts were used, respectively. Feed to the hydrogenation reactors consisted of mostly C8-C17 olefins, where a Ni-C catalyst was used in the first reactor, and a 0.3% Pt/Al2O3 was used in the second reactor. Paraffins were separated by size into SAF, diesel, and gasoline. Analysis revealed the economic viability of the designed ethanol feed ATJ-SPK process is highly dependent on the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Credit created by the Inflation Reduction Act. The credit gives $1.25 per gallon of SAF sold, given that the SAF has a 50% reduction in lifetime greenhouse gas emissions. The following process reduces GHG emissions by almost exactly 50%, putting the process at risk for not receiving the SAF tax credit if an unexpected source of emissions is discovered. Furthermore, the SAF tax credit expires in 2025, so there is little long-term economic viability of the designed process. With the discontinuation of government incentives, achieving the ambitious 2050 emissions goal for the aviation industry becomes even more challenging. If the United States is committed to these targets, additional tax incentives will likely be essential. The following design can be used as a baseline for future ethanol feed ATJ-SPK processes, and may prove viable if there are additional economic incentives established for SAFs as the 2030, 2040, and 2050 goals of the aviation industry to reduce emissions become a top environmental priority.
  • Publication
    Hydrogen Production from Efficient Two-Step Water Splitting
    (2024-06-18) Bagchi, Rohan
    The demand for renewable energy sources such as hydrogen is projected to increase in the next few decades as the world turns its sights towards reducing the effects of climate change. Hydrogen has recently been considered for use in the automobile industry as a power source for fuel cell vehicles because of its high energy density by mass. The greenest form of hydrogen production is through water electrolysis. Traditional water electrolysis, however, requires a membrane, which lowers efficiency and raises costs and safety risks. In this report, we design a process for two-step splitting of water by rotating cycles of electrochemical production of hydrogen and thermochemical production of oxygen without the use of a membrane. The process produces 28,000 U.S. tons of hydrogen per year with a co-product of 222,000 U.S. tons of oxygen per year. The electricity to power the electrolysis and other process units is sourced from solar energy. With a selling price of $1.02/lb of hydrogen - based on current prices for grey hydrogen, a selling price of $0.04/lb of oxygen, and a tax credit of $1.46/lb for the production of green hydrogen, the plant would achieve a return on investment of -1.87%, an internal rate of return of 34%, and a net present value of $152 million. In the best-case scenario where oxygen can be sold at a higher price of $0.30 for medical uses, the plant becomes much more profitable with an IRR of 67% and an ROI of 44%. The process’ voltage efficiency of 91.0% and HHV efficiency of 81.3% make it competitive with the best electrolysis technologies used in industry. Overall, the process provides one pathway towards a large-scale hydrogen economy.
  • Publication
    Food Production Without Photosynthesis
    (2024-06-18) Dobkin, Gabrielle
    While single-carbon molecules are not limited, the forms of edible carbon are. The rate at which photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide to biomass is limited by sunlight, climate, and water. With a global population of 8.1 billion and growing, it is imperative that food production remain secure despite changing and unpredictable conditions. Thus, single cell protein (SCP) production via industrial-scale fermentation proves to be an attractive avenue for producing food within a closed system using significantly less arable land and water. SCP is protein-rich biomass derived from unicellular microorganisms, such as yeast, bacteria, or algae. This report assesses the economic feasibility of producing human food grade SCP biomass using fermentation of the methanotrophic bacteria Methyloccocus Capsulatus with two different single-carbon sources as feed. This process was initially designed to produce 50,000 US tons of SCP biomass a year, it demonstrated capacity to produce upwards of 62,000 US tons/year. Therefore, this number was used in the final profitability analysis. The proposed location for the plant is Groves, Texas. The product was determined to have an ideal selling price of $7/kg. The methane-fed process was determined to be economically unfeasible after raw material costs and equipment costs were calculated. However, the methanol-fed process was determined to be viable after considering raw materials, equipment, utilities and other expenses. The methanol-fed process has an IRR of 29% and an ROI of 28%. With the fractional land requirements compared to traditional agriculture, the methanol-fed SCP production process proves to be worth pursuing based on environmental factors.
  • Publication
    Post-Combustion CO2 Capture using Desublimation Technology
    (2024-06-18) Piotrzkowski, Kathleen
    Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen dramatically over the past century, causing serious environmental concerns. The largest contributor to carbon emissions is the burning of fossil fuels for energy production. Much research is being conducted to develop new alternative fuels that do not release carbon dioxide, including hydrogen, solar, and geothermal. Despite these efforts, carbon-emitting fuel sources still supply about 80% of the world’s energy. To decrease carbon emissions in the current energy landscape, carbon capture is essential. Carbon capture selectively captures CO2 from the atmosphere through direct air capture (DAC) or point- source capture from flue gas streams. Existing carbon capture technologies only capture 0.4% of total emissions in the U.S., providing much demand and opportunity for the rapid development of new technologies. Carbon capture using desublimation selectively captures CO2 by decreasing the temperature inducing a phase change of CO2 from vapor to solid, producing pure carbon dioxide. This project proposes a process to capture 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide at 99% purity from a typical natural gas-fired power plant feed stream using desublimation technology. Our process offers a competitive design for carbon capture from diluted flue gas streams at $119 per ton of CO2.