Principal investigator: dr. Ramesh Kumar Chowdari
Aromatic hydrocarbons are building blocks for the production of synthetic fibers, pesticides, detergents and dyes. Until today, it was the main source of aromatics. The focus of research has shifted to sustainable processes and the transition from traditional oil refineries to biorefineries that use biomass as raw material. Lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) could be a perfect source of renewable energy due to its simple and large amount, which is also emphasized in the recent EU vision, circular biosociety in 2050. LCB is currently considered a waste that will be a valuable raw material for future biorefineries. In plant biomass, lignin is the only material from which six-membered aromatic chemicals such as BTX can be produced because it is composed of rich six-membered carbon rings. In the pulp and paper industry, lignin is considered a low-value by-product and is burned for energy. State-of-the-art lignin hydrotreatment involves depolymerization into oligomers followed by hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) to produce monomers. The main disadvantages of batch reactions for solvent-free hydrogenation of lignin are long contact times and high hydrogen pressures, which lead to low-value products. In this context, the Lig2Aro project addresses the urgent need to identify catalysts for the continuous hydrotreatment of lignin for the production of aromatics. Therefore, I propose single-shell dandelion type microsphere catalysts with high HDO capacity for solvent-free hydrotreatment of Kraft lignin in semi-continuous and continuous reactors. With optimized catalyst and process conditions, a high yield of aromatics and not alkylphenols is expected as the main product. With the Lig2Aro project, I will become an independent expert on catalysis related to lignin valorization by conducting experiments in continuous reactors. This scholarship will boost my career development in biorefinery with industrial application as well.
The project is co-financed by ARRS with 238 annual hours of price class D for a period of 2 years. Funding starts on March 1, 2022.
At the National Institute of Chemistry the project group includes:
dr. Ramesh Kumar Chowdari; SICRIS št. 56390 https://cris.cobiss.net/ecris/si/sl/researcher/53280