Biochemical (biochem) research group

The biochem 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 chemical from wastes.  The name of the group changed from Biofuels to Biochem in Oct. 2021.  


Effect of hydrogen donors on the catalyzed hydrogenolysis of Kraft lignin


Abraham Castro Garcia, IGP A(MEXT Scholarship), GEDES, D2

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.

Enhancement of Lipids Recovery Efficiency for Biodiesel Production from Wastewater Sludge by using Direct Lipids Extraction


Usman Muhammad, GEDES, IGPA (MEXT Scholarship), D1 Student

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.

Production of Green Hydrogen from Syngas using Pd-Cu membrane 

Keang Kimleng, M1, IGP-A (MEXT Scholarship), Energy Science and Engineering (Energy Course)

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.

Optimization of Lignin Hydrogenolysis using Machine Learning


Liu Yin, M2, IGPA, Materials Science and Engineering Dept.

Lignocellulose, referring to plant dry matter, consists of lignin, hemi-cellulose, and cellulose. Many methods have been developed for lignin depolymerization to produce bio-oil, among all of them, hydrogenolysis (reaction with hydrogen) produces the highest yields of lignin-based bio-oil. However, yield and selectivity are currently in sufficient to produce an economical biofuel. Optimization of reaction conditions including catalyst and reaction media for lignin hydrogenolysis is needed. Nowadays, Machine Learning already plays a big role not only in our daily life but also in science and research. By combining information technology and material science, it is possible to accurately find optimized conditions for lignin hydrogenolysis. Our research is aiming at using machine learning to solve the problem of optimizing lignin hydrogenolysis. We expect to determine the reaction conditions that will identify the best yield, selectivity, and the lowest cost. A machine learning derived literature database will be set up in order to summarize previous global high-yielding lignin hydrogenolysis results. Using this database and machine learning, simulations will be run based on computer modeling and machine learning. Finally, multiple experiments will be carried out to verify the results and to propose key reaction pathways. 

Hydrothermal Treatment of Carbon Negative Urban Waste into Hydro-char and Green Hydrogen

M.M. Harussani, IGP-A (MEXT Scholarship), Research Student

Hydrothermal treatment (HTT) as a promising thermochemical process can convert organic solid wastes (e.g., biomass, plastics, urban) into valuable products (i.e., hydrochar, hydrogen, syngas) at modest temperatures (350–650 °C) and saturated pressures (2–10 MPa). Hydrothermal conversion generally occurs via dehydration, polymerization and finally carbonization reactions. The carbon materials derived from hydrochar and hydrogen-rich gas have high potential in various applications such as solid fuel, supercapacitor, fuel cell, and could potentially substitute fossil fuels  in being carbon-neutral resulting in no net accumulation of CO2 upon combustion.