Plastic Recuperation and Valorisation Fit for Use
|Duration:||01/01/2016 – 31/12/2019|
Enzymes for Added Sustainability and Efficiency
|Duration:||01/01/2017 – 31/12/2018|
Refining of Wood to Aromatics
Publications and patents concerning lignine conversion are mainly focused on the production of biofuels and oxygen-free hydrocarbons. This pioneering work offers interesting opportunities, but there is a huge competition in those markets from other biomass types and petrochemicals. The discovery of shale gas and oil complicates the justification to generate fuels from biomass. In addition, biomass has a problem of scale, which makes that future bio-refineries will/can not provide mega ton production of chemicals, so that a clear choice must be made for the production of a handful of (valuable) chemicals in stead of a very wide range of products. For this reason, building blocks for polymers are to be preferred.
While already a lot of building blocks are produced from renewable resources, sustainable production of molecules with aromatic structure is still very challenging. The ARBOREF project intends to propose a bio-refinery for aromatics, describing chemical routes for the production of some essential aromatics from renewable raw materials such as wood and grasses.
Central to the project is a recently developed KU Leuven technology, which converts wood into high yields of mono-phenols (from lignin), and a fixed (hemi) cellulose pulp (1). Useful aromatics will be produced from both fractions in this project. On the one hand, the phenols are reduced to building blocks that can be used in the polyurethane, polyester, polyamide, polycarbonate and phenolresin industry. On the other hand, the sugar pulp is also used for the production of aromatics such as benzene, styrene, and terephthalic acid. The ultimate ambition is to set up a biorefinery, which produces aromatics from timber with 90% carbon efficiency.
This multidisciplinary project will work on the following issues and challenges:
- What is the ideal raw material (plant species) for bio-aromatics synthesis? Understanding the structure of the plant components and their relative proportions in the cell wall in relation to the convertibility of the plant species is very important.
- How can we best address the separation of different chemicals that result from the conversion technology?
- How convertible is the sugar pulp fraction in yeast fermentation processes and chemical catalysis and thermal processes to aromatic building blocks for the chemical industry?
- What are the most interesting synthetic routes from the lignin fraction, which allow both synthesis of existing chemicals such as phenol, but also new chemicals for polymer and fine chemical applications?
|Duration:||01/04/2015 – 31/03/2019|
Manufacturing of Advanced & Innovative Bio-Aromatics
|Duration:||01/09/2015 – 31/08/2017|
Biogenic Catalysts for Air Purification and Sustainable Materials
The BIOCAPPS project aims to develop diatom microalgae for customized silica based catalysts applied in air purification and sustainablematerialsby means of a sustainable bottom-up self-assembly process. The project includes the cultivation of diatoms and their separationinto biomass and silica frustule towards applications in air purification and biobased material development.
Diatoms are an extremely diverse group of unicellular algae that self-assemble soluble silicon (Si(OH)4) into a porous, intricate siliceous cell wall, called frustule. Diatom frustules possess a unique combination of physical and chemical properties (chemical inertness, high mechanical strength, large surface area, low density, good porosity and highly ordered features from nano to micro scale) making diatom frustules highly promising for use in applications such as light harvesting, chromatography, (photo)catalysis, drug delivery, photonics, biosensors and adsorption. The diatom frustules are formed under ambient conditions and consist of hydrated silica with specific 3D morphologies and micro-, meso or macroporosity. A remarkable characteristic of diatoms is their ability to bioaccumulate soluble titanium out of cell culture medium and incorporates this into the 3D-nano-architecture of the frustule. These natural biosilica-titania materials have excellent properties for catalytic purposes like air purification. Additionally, bioaccumulation of other elements in the frustule as well as the use of pure frustules has great potential as sustainable materials. This project focuses on the valorisation of both the biomass and the frustule portion aiming at a full cradle-to-cradle approach.
This project will result in two valorisation pathways of diatom frustules. On the one hand an optimized bio-template production process for mesoporous silica-titania catalysts at TomAlgae will lead to an efficient, sustainable, economically and ecologically viable air purification process tested by Genano Benelux/Gevoc. On the other hand Fibreuze can use the optimized silica production process at TomAlgae for the development of biobased materials.
This project aligns with our Renewable Chemicals program . It proposes studying, developing and optimizing a sustainable, biogenic production route for the synthesis of catalysts for air purification that is scalable from lab level to industrial level. This project also proposes to exploit microalgae, a new biomass source.
|Duration:||01/01/2016 – 31/12/2017|
Innovative Algae Processing for Nutraceuticals in Food and Feed
This will i) provide solutions to the industry for the exploitation of algae as an alternative source for high quality functional proteins for food and animal feed, and ii) bring an innovative technological breakthrough in terms of more efficient cultivation and drainage principles, as well as mild pretreatment and separation processes.
The iAlgaePro project offers a strong added value for Flanders on several areas. It allows us to further stimulate the economy algae in Flemish companies. The usergroup of this project consists of actors/companies in the entire value chain, from primary production to valorization, which emphasizes the broad support. Also, the creation of a an algae economy is a European story. The involvement of German companies and research institutes will allow the companies to expand their network and enhance their knowledge in an international network. The project is also highly relevant to the industrial economy in Flanders and in particular to SMEs.
|Duration:||30/11/2014 – 29/11/2016|
Functional, REACH-Compliant, Ecologically and Economically Responsible Foaming of Polymer Products
Sustainability and the introduction of new properties (functionalization) are the main drivers to produce foam polymers. The incorporation of gas into the polymer matrix (1) strongly reduces the density resulting in material and energy savings and (2) creates new properties, such as thermal, acoustic and electric insulation, comfort and dimensional stability.
Provided that “microcellular gas cells” can be incorporated into the polymer matrix, the intrinsic mechanical and thermal properties of the basic polymers can be maintained and other properties, such as impact resistance and dimensional stability can even be improved, so that polymer foams may also be applied in structural applications.
To build up foam in a polymer matrix, one may use physical and/or chemical foaming agents or add syntactic microspheres/ granulates that will expand under the influence of temperature. However, several foaming agents and/or microspheres have some major ecological and/or economic drawbacks:
- The chemical foaming agent ADCA (Azodicarbonamide) that is most often applied in polymer foams has been identified as a SVHC component (list of December 2012) for it can provoke respiratory problems. Recently, ECHA has included ADCA on the draft list for prioritisation.
- The use of super critical CO2 as a physical foaming agent requires special machinery and a licence.
- Microspheres or granulates filled with HC (hydrocarbon) contain inflammable gases limiting their application.
To give a competitive and ecologically valid answer to the increasing demand of foam polymer products (strong demand of insulation materials, lighter plastics, etc.), it is necessary to reconsider the foaming technology and the chemical agents that are being used. The economically sound substitution of SVHC foaming agents is an urgent challenge for the plastics processing, textile, coating and other industrial sectors. Substitution not only means a switch from one foaming agent supplied by one producer to another (in as far as they are available for the diverse polymers), but also means the related process and product developments and possible adaptations to the machinery.Target Group
The research project addresses foam applications in textile and plastics processing sectors:
- Producers of polymer products applying (or wishing to apply) physical and/or chemical foaming agents: plastics processing companies using extrusion and injection moulding; coating, laminating companies; producers of floor and wall coverings, of PUR or PS foam blocks, packaging products and composites.
- Polymer producers and chemical companies with micro-encapsulation technology
- Producers and suppliers of chemicals used polymer foaming (foaming, nucleating agents, foam stabilizers, etc.)
- Machine manufacturers and technology suppliers
The research project will perform the following tasks:
- Screening and characterisation of foaming and nucleating agents that may be used in polymer foaming (thermosets, thermoplastics, composites, coatings)
- In the case of textile coating: substitution of exothermic foaming agents by endothermic ones of combinations, for both plastisols (PVC) and dispersions (acrylate or polyurethane)
- In the case of plastics: substitution of exothermic foaming agents by endothermic ones, evaluation of physical foaming, solid state pre-saturation, foam beads and micronized chemical foaming agents.
- (Semi) industrial trials
- Characterisation of the foam structures
|Duration:||01/06/2015 – 31/05/2017|
Supercritical Solutions for Sidestream Valorisation
|Duration:||01/09/2015 – 31/08/2018|
Development of a Center of Expertise and Pilot Production Installation for Industrial Flow Processes in Flanders
The fine-chemical processing industry in Flanders is to date still almost exclusively organized in terms of relatively large multi-purpose batch installations. Mainly under influence of the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the US, a lot of research efforts have emerged in the field of continuous processing in the last decade. At first, this research was mainly focused towards small scale laboratory work, in the last couple of years more and more reports of pilot-scale and even full scale production developments in flow chemistry are being made. With the exception of some individual companies, the fine-chemical processing industry in Flanders is currently lagging behind in its adaptation of continuous processing.
With the ATOM project, the consortium wishes to make a start in building a true knowledge platform around flow chemistry in Flanders, and to investigate the feasibility of a flexible flow chemistry pilot production installation that would be open for contract manufacturing and pilot production for interested partners. By bringing together four industrial partners with a keen interest in this new technology and four academic groups with a proven track record in this field, we plan to make a serious step in the direction of anchoring the continuous processing knowledge needed to implement this technology in the Flemish chemical processing industry. Specifically, the main goals of this project can be summarized as follows:
- Evaluate a number of specific processes from the partnering companies under flow conditions and prepare them for scale-up, if appropriate. The processes to be studied will cover a wide span of reaction conditions (multiphase, highly exothermic,…) so they can be considered to be generic for other applications from current and possibly future partners as well.
- Gather the design input needed for the development of a multipurpose pilot plant flow reactor to produce pilot quantities of identified materials
- Setting up a scientific, technological and economical centre of expertise for flow reactors, available for broad use by the Flemish chemical industry
Companies exploring the possibilities of flow technology to increase their production efficiency. Assuring that the scientific and technological knowledge is available and accessible, together with an accessible pilot plant facility, it will be possible for both the industrial partners from this project and other interested parties from within the Flemish chemical community to make a well-motivated choice between batch processing and flow processing for different chemical processes.
Learn more about the technology
|Duration:||31/08/2014 – 31/10/2016|
Production of Economically Viable Alternatives to Petroleum-Based Wax and Olefins
|Duration:||01/01/2015 – 31/12/2016|