Day 1 :
ANTECY – Fruitful Innovations, Netherlands
Paul O’ Connor graduated at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Chemical Engineering in 1977. He has been active in heavy oil conversion processes at Shell and at Akzo Nobel in development of refining catalysts. In 2006 he formed BIOeCON, focused on the economical conversion of biomass. BIOeCON has developed several breakthrough concepts, most recently a process towards selective biomass fractionation producing high value materials. In 2010 Paul formed ANTECY aiming to convert renewable energy directly into high-density liquids. ANTECY has developed technology for the capturing of CO2 based on a low cost and environmentally friendly non-amine sorbents.
In the billion year history of our earth a most amazing and unique process has occured of the massive conversion of the plentitude of the present CO2 in the atmosphere with water into biomass or biomaterials under the influence of solar energy, a process we call: photosynthesis.
Because of this processs the CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere dropped from 20% to ± 250 to 300ppm. Part of these biomaterials over billions of years has been degraded (or “fossilized”) and converted into coal, oil and gas, or what we call today fossil fuels.
The accelerated use of these fossil resources over the last 200 years has lead to a sharp increase in CO2, now already at 400 ppm and also the increase of Methane (CH4) in the atmosphere, triggering global warming.
It is our responsibility to invent, develop and apply the right green chemistry making use of the available natural resources such as CO2, water and biomaterials in a way which does not harm the eco-systems of our earth, meaning in a circular and sustainable way,
Examples will be given of innovations in this exciting field over the last 15 years, leading to new technologies, opening up the possibilities for:
- Advanced materials and chemicals from biomass and biomass waste
- Fuels and chemicals from CO2 and water from the open Air, making use of clean renewable energy (Solar, Wind, Hydropower etc).
National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA
Dr. Magrini is a Principal Scientist in the National Bioenergy Center and currently manages NREL’s Thermochemical Sciences and Engineering Group, which focuses on the development of catalytic approaches to biofuels production from syngas and pyrolysis products from biomass. She has 29 years of research and management experience in academic, industrial and national laboratory environments and has over 100 peers- reviewed publications, 2 patent applications, 1 patent and 125 presentations at national and international meetings.
NREL’s thermochemical biomass conversion research is focused on ex-situ catalytic fast pyrolysis also called vapor phase upgrading (VPU) as a potentially efficient and economical route to pyrolysis-based fuel precursors, fuels and chemicals. In this approach, biomass vapors are generated via fast pyrolysis (FP) and destabilizing vapor components (char, inorganics, tar aerosols) are removed by hot gas filtration with the conditioned vapors more amenable to catalytic upgrading via emerging and industrially available zeolites. We use a Davison circulating riser (DCR), a petroleum industry standard, for vapor phase upgrading while a close coupled pyrolyzer system produces consistent pyrolysis vapors as feed to the DCR. Concurrent upgrading catalyst development is focused on identifying and evaluating modifications to ZSM5-based catalysts that increase carbon content of the condensed product while also reducing catalyst coking and increasing deoxygenation activity. Subsequent catalyst screening for vapor upgrading showed marked differences in product composition with catalyst type while similar liquid product was obtained with both mixed hardwood and clean pine feedstocks using the same catalyst and process conditions. Ash, aerosols and char removal were additionally quantified for selected experiments. The work presented here will show 1) the impact on product composition from pure vapor upgrading with a suite of catalysts comprising unmodified, and P- and metal-modified zeolites, 2) comprehensive physical and chemical product composition, 3) product fuels from hydrotreating, and 4) chemicals from aqueous phase organics. These results will be discussed and compared with other work conducted in riser systems to produce biomass derived hydrocarbon fuels.
University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
Claudia Crestini is associate professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Director of the Laboratory of Polyphenols Chemistry & Materials Science, her work is internationnally recognized as a leading contribution to Green Chemistry using natural polyphenols. It is focused on the development of new methods of structural analysis of polyphenolic polymers, development of new materials and products by chemical/biotechnological modification and development of innovative stimuli responsive nanomaterials from natural polyphenols. She has published more than 140 publications on international refereed journals and over 150 contributions to international conferences and invited presentations. H-index 41, citations > 5000 (source google scholar).
Tannins are natural polyphenols found in most higher plants around the globe. They play a significant role in defending the plant against insects, infections, fungi or bacteria; this role stems from their capability to form complexes with proteins, polysaccharides and metals, and hence provide protection to the vulnerable parts of the plants against invasive microbial extracellular enzymes. However, their exploitation as renewable high added value products is to date not extensive despite their interesting intrinsic properties, including high biocompatibility and biodegradability. The fundamental positive health effects of tannins, which are connected to their high antioxidant activity and their role as radical scavengers, allow for protection from diseases associate with the presence of free radicals in the body, such as cancer, arthritis, and degenerative eye and neurological disorders, and display significant potential for biofilm control undoubtedly revealing intriguing potential for their application in biomedical fields that is yet to be explored. In this frame our research group, aiming at designing a rational process for tannins valorization developed an innovative 31P NMR analytical technique for fast and reliable quantification of all the different phenolic groups present in complex tannns matrices and applied it to the selective functionalization of tannins of different origins and structures in order to tune biological and chemico physical properties such as hydrophobicity and chelation. Furthermore, the high tendency to supramolecular interactions was succesfully exploited for the design and development of nanostructures for synergistic controlled drug delivery by ultrasonication.
North Carolina State University, USA
Dimitris Argyropoulos, Professor of Chemistry at North Carolina State University, is internationally recognized for his leading contributions to Green Chemistry using wood biopolymers. His work focuses at promoting our understanding of the structure and reactivity of lignin and the development novel NMR and material science techniques for the structural elucidation and the upgrading of these biopolymers representing otherwise unsolved, intractable problems in lignin based material’s chemistry. The efforts of his research group have been disseminated in excess of 200 scientific papers, numerous scientific conferences and invited presentations.
Carbon fibers represent a class of materials with enormous potential for many material and other engineering applications for our society. There are projections that by 2020 the actual demand for carbon fibers will be such that the traditional poly-acrylonotrile precursors used today will not be enough to address the projected demand. Consequently, it is imperative that new precursors based on the foundations of Green Chemistry need be developed. In this respect technical lignins present us with formidable challenges but also with enormous opportunities and they are to be explored in detail during this presentation. In our earlier effort we have embarked in describing and discussing the importance of propargylation chemistry on lignin so as to synthesize lignin macromonomers for thermal polymerization via Claisen rearrangement 1, 2. We have also discussed that the molecular weight and glass transition temperatures of the thermally polymerized lignin improves significantly relative to the starting material. The intricate polymer structure created within lignin as a result of the benzopyran double bond thermal polymerization chemistry is offering a regular covalently linked framework from which, after carbonization, a regular carbon fiber material could. As such, thermally polymerized propargylated softwood lignin emerges as a prospective material for the synthesis of bio-based Carbon Fiber precursor. Various reactivity considerations that are to be discussed in the presentation 3 were addressed by a series of experiments where initially Acetone Soluble Kraft Lignin (ASKL) was propargylated, thus occupying all readily accessible and highly reactive phenolic–OHs, followed by methylation of the remaining phenolic OH’s to limit phenoxy radical induced thermal polymerization. All the polymerization reactions were conducted by heating the samples at 180 °C for three hours and the corresponding molecular weights and distributions were determined.
As anticipated, the installation of the propargyl groups in more reactive positions, more readily prone to Claisen rearrangement and thermal polymerization events, offered much better developed molecular weights able to offer Carbon Fibers.