Dr. Thomas A. Adams II
Thomas Adams
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering
1280 Main Street West,
Hamilton, ON, L8S 4L7, Canada
Driving directions and map

Office: JHE 371
Voice: +1 (905) 525 9140 extension 24782
email: tadams@mcmaster.ca

green energy conversion, semicontinuous systems, process design, modeling, simulation and optimization
  • B.S. Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University (2003)
  • B.S. Computer Science, Michigan State University (2003)
  • Ph.D. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (2008)
  • Post-Doctoral Associate, Process Systems Engineering Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2008-2010)

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in process systems engineering, and particularly in the design, optimization, and control of energy systems.

Sustainable Energy Conversion Technologies and Processes


The goal here is to develop new technologies and processes for converting raw materials to energy products in an environmentally sustainable way. The conversion of coal, biomass, and natural gas to electricity, liquid fuels, and chemical products with reduced atmospheric emissions, reduced pollution, and CO2 capture capability is of particular interest. Prior work on power generation from coal and natural gas using solid oxide fuel cells to achieve zero atmospheric emissions and 100% CO2 capture has been featured in the popular media including Scientific American, Popular Science, and National Public Radio. Other areas of interest include polygeneration—the synergistic co-production of electricity and liquid fuels—and biomass energy conversion to biofuels such as biomethanol, biobutanol, and bioDME, at scales large and small.


Semicontinuous Chemical Processes
imageThis research focuses on a novel process intensification technique called Semicontinuous Processing, by which separation steps are combined into one process unit, operating cyclically, but without startup and shutdown stages. Pioneering efforts into the integration of reaction with semicontinuous separation demonstrated economic superiority of the technique at intermediate production rates compared to traditional batch and continuous methods. Current work is in the development of a generalized theory of semicontinuous systems to aid in the design of the process, equipment, and control system.


Videos of Semicontinuous Chemical Processes in Action
See full videos with descriptions on our YouTube Channel

Selected Publications

  • Niesbach A, Adams TA II, Lutze P. Semicontinuous distillation of impurities for the production of butyl acrylate from bio-butanol and bio-acrylic acid. Chem Eng Processing, in press: doi: doi:10.1016/j.cep.2013.09.008(2013)
  • Ghouse JH, Adams TA II. A multi-scale dynamic two-dimensional heterogeneous model for catalytic steam methane reforming reactions. Int J Hydrogen Energy, in-press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2013.05.170
  • Nease J, Adams TA II. Systems for peaking power with 100% CO2 capture by integration of solid oxide fuel cells with compressed air energy storage. In press, J Power Sources. DOI: 10.1016/j.j
  • Adams TA II, Nease J, Tucker D, Barton PI. Energy conversion with solid oxide fuel cell systems: a review of concepts and outlooks for the short and long term. Ind Eng Chem Res. DOI:10.1021/ie300996r
  • Salkuyeh YK, Adams TA II. Combining coal, natural gas, and nuclear heat for liquid fuels production with reduced CO2 emissions. In: 22nd European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering. Bogle IDL, Fairweather M, eds. Elsevier: pp247-251, Amsterdam (2012).
  • Adams TA II, Pascall A. Semicontinuous thermal separation systems. Chem Eng Techol, 35:1153-1170 (2012)
  • Chen Y, Li X, Adams TA II, Barton PI. Decomposition strategy for the global optimization of flexible energy polygeneration systems. AIChE J. DOI: 10.1002/aic.13708
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. Combining coal gasification, natural gas reforming, and solid oxide fuel cells for efficient polygeneration with CO2 capture and sequestration. Fuel Process Technol, 92:2105-2115 (2011)
  • Chen Y, Adams TA II, Barton PI. Optimal design and operation of flexible energy polygeneration systems. Ind Eng Chem Res, 50:4553-4566 (2011)
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. Combining coal gasification and natural gas reforming for efficient polygeneration. Fuel Process Technol, 92:639-655 (2011)
  • Chen Y, Adams TA II, Barton PI. Optimal design and operation of static energy polygeneration systems. Ind Eng Chem Res, 50:5099-5113 (2011)
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. Clean coal: A new power generation process with high efficiency, carbon capture and zero emissions. In: 20th European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering. Pierucci S, Ferraris GB, eds. Elsevier:Amsterdam, pp991-996 (2010)
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. High efficiency power production from coal with carbon capture. AIChE J,
    56:12:3120-3136 (2010)
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. High-efficiency power production from natural gas with carbon capture. J Power
    , 195:7:1971-1983, (2010)
  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. A dynamic two-dimensional heterogeneous model for water gas shift reactors. Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 34:21:8877-8891 (2009)
  • Adams TA II, Seider WD. Design heuristics for semicontinuous chemical processes. Chem Eng Res Des,
    87:3:263-270 (2009)
  • Adams TA II, Seider WD. Semicontinuous reactive extraction and reactive distillation. Chem Eng Res Des,87:3:245-262 (2009)
  • Adams TA II, Seider WD. Semicontinuous distillation for ethyl lactate production. AIChE J, 54:10:2539-2552 (2008)
  • Adams TA II, Seider WD. Practical optimization of complex chemical processes with tight constraints. Comput Chem Eng, 32:9:2099-2112 (2008)
  • Adams TA II, Seider WD. Semicontinuous distillation with chemical reaction in a middle vessel. Ind Eng
    Chem Res
    , 45:5548-5560 (2006)

Textbook Sections

  • Nathanson RB, Adams TA II, Seider WD, "Aspen Icarus Process Evaluator (IPE): Equipment Sizing and Costing Using Aspen Plus to Initiate Evaluation", May 2008; online textbook section in Product and Process Design Principles, by W.D. Seider, J.D. Seider, D. R. Lewin, and S. Widago, 3rd Ed, John Wiley (2009).


  • Adams TA II, Barton PI. Systems and methods for the separation of carbon dioxide and water. US Patent App 2010/0279181-A1. International patents pending.