Biofuels research group
The Biofuels research group consists of students with chemistry, environmental engineering, and chemical engineering knowledge who are doing both fundamental research and applied process engineering research to create biofuels and useful chemicals from wastes. The name of the group changed from Biochem to Biofuels in May 2023.
Abraham Castro Garcia
InfoSysEnergy Doctoral Student, Energy Course, D3 student
Effect of hydrogen donors on the catalyzed hydrogenolysis of Kraft lignin
Lignin is a widely abundant component of wood (15-30% weight), its chemical structure is a complex polymer made of phenolic units. It is possible to transform this lignin into aromatic chemicals which are currently obtained only from oil, with a wide range of applications. Hydrogenolysis reaction is used to transform lignin into aromatic chemicals by using alcohols and water as a source of hydrogen together with a nickel catalyst. Experiments are carried out in batch or bomb type reactors with different types of alcohols, temperatures, reaction times and other variables, the products consist mainly bio oil and is analyzed by GC-MS. The research objective is to find a combination of variables using machine learning that optimize the quantity and quality of bio oil produced from lignin.
IGP-A (MEXT Scholarship), GEDES, D2 Student
Enhancement of Lipids Recovery Efficiency for Biodiesel Production from Wastewater Sludge by using Direct Lipids Extraction
The increasing demands and use of petroleum fuels are harmful to the underground fossil fuels level and environment as well. There is a growing interest in biofuel production to replace fossil fuels by managing and utilization of wastes (biomass). Biodiesel is one of the promising biofuels produces from different edible and non-edible resources which has the same potential as petroleum diesel. Due to its feedstock and pre-treatment, it has a great challenge of high production cost which ranges from $4.4 to $6.0 per liter. Sewage sludge has been tested as a potential source of biodiesel production because of high generation and free availability but still, it has the same challenge of production cost in which the drying process contributes >50%. Our new approach is to produce biodiesel by direct lipids extraction with the elimination of the drying process and efficient lipids recovery by using different extraction stages.
Muhammad Harussani Moklis (M. M. Harussani)
IGP-C (MEXT Scholarship), Energy Course, D1 student
Glycerol upgrading via thermo-electrocatalytic deoxygenation
Glycerol is a by-product of biodiesel manufacturing, saponification process, fatty acid and bioethanol industries. Thus, the value of glycerol is decreasing in the global market due to its surplus. Electrochemical valorization of biomass-derived feedstocks, glycerol, into biofuels offers a sustainable method for utilization of biomass waste and for greener biofuel manufacturing under milder operating conditions. Here, we investigate the novel approach of thermo-electrocatalytic deoxygenation of glycerol at ambient temperature and pressure. The application of elevated temperature within the electrolyte and selective electrolysis of glycerol over electrocatalyst, which also acts as electrode, will allow two-fold deoxygenation to occur within the single cell system. This strategy, therefore, can be a promising alternative to upgrade diverse oxygenated compounds into desired biofuels.
Palladium-based membranes for hydrogen separation from syngas have been studied by several research groups recently. Generally, syngas consists of H2, CO, CO2, CH4, H2S and H2O in various ratios which is a corrosive gas that is produced from gasification of coal or biomass. Impurities such as S, and Cl impurities in syngas adsorb on the Pd membrane surface and are reported to inhibit hydrogen transport across the membrane and block H2 dissociation sites. Consequently, the purity of the hydrogen gas produced is lowered by surface poisoning which also reduces the H2 purifier reliability and operating life. This study aims to investigate Pd60Cu40 hydrogen purifier membrane reliability issues when exposed to syngas including the membrane degradation/regeneration mechanisms. By understanding the membrane degradation/rejuvenation mechanism, longer operating times of the hydrogen purifier are to be expected.
IGP-A (MEXT Scholarship), Energy Course, M2 student
Production of Green Hydrogen from Syngas using Pd-Cu membrane
IGP-A (MEXT Scholarship), Energy Course, M1 student
Valorization of waste cooking oil (WCO) to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) via catalytic hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) process: Assessment of catalytic activity and process parameters
SAF is currently more expensive than conventional jet fuels due to higher production costs, limited production capacity, and uncertainty in feedstock availability. As a result, there are several ways to reduce the costs of SAF production in terms of reducing energy and developing new technologies, such as the use of new catalysts and so on. Additionally, when noble group catalysts are expensive and transition group catalysts (mono and di) require higher temperature, pressure, and reaction time for catalytic hydrogenation of WCO then investigate the valorization of WCO to produce 80-90% efficient and effective SAF via the catalytic hydrogenation of the HEFA process by implementation of a newly developed trimetallic Co-Mo-Ni/Al2O3 catalyst followed by optimizing the catalytic activity and reaction conditions are the main aim and objective of this research. Furthermore, this could provide a sustainable solution for disposing of WCO, reducing dependence on fossil fuel, expanding the SAF market, reducing GHGs concerns, and climate change in the aviation industry, and acquiring net zero in 2050.
CHAN Tak Chun (David)
YSEP international exchange student, B3 student
Machine Learning aided study of lignin hydrodeoxygenation reactions in model compounds
Lignin is a complex organic polymer that provides structural support to the cell walls of plants and trees. It is the second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose. Lignin is a valuable feedstock in the biofuel category because it can be converted into a variety of fuels through various thermochemical and biochemical processes. For example, lignin can be converted into higher heating value bio-oil through hydrodeoxygenation, which can then be further refined into transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. This research is aimed to find out the principal feature of these reactions with the aid of machine learning models and experiments in order to improve the reaction process specifically.