Matching Items (3)

Filtering by

Clear all filters

132449-Thumbnail Image.png

Can Biochar Be Converted into Activated Carbon?

Description

In Nepal, a viable solution for environmental management, food and water security is the production of biochar, a carbon material made of plants burned in low oxygen conditions. Currently, the biochar is manufactured into charcoal briquettes and sold on the

In Nepal, a viable solution for environmental management, food and water security is the production of biochar, a carbon material made of plants burned in low oxygen conditions. Currently, the biochar is manufactured into charcoal briquettes and sold on the market for energy usage, however this may not provide the best value for community members who make less than a dollar a day and sell the biochar for as little as 16 cents per kilogram. This thesis seeks to improve the price of biochar and help their livelihoods as well as explore innovative solutions. One way to improve biochar while addressing water security problems is to create activated carbon, which uses its heightened porosity to adsorb contaminants from water or air. Activated carbon is also worth 100x the price of biochar. This thesis evaluates the mass content of biochar produced in Nepal, comparing it to literature values, and performed gravimetric and thermogravimetric analysis, comparing it to Activated Charcoal. Analysis of the biochar system used in Nepal reveals that the byproduct of biochar, biofuels, is highly underutilized. The higher heating value of biochar is 17.95 MJ/kg, which is much lower than other charcoals which burn around 30 MJ/kg. Low volatile content, less than 5% in biochar, provides a smokeless briquette, which is favorable on the market, however low heating value and misutilizations of biofuels in the solution indicate that creating a briquette is not the best use for biochar. Ash content is really high in this biochar, averaging around 12% and it may be due to the feedstock, a composite between Mikania and Lantana, which have 5.23% and 10.77% ash content respectively. This does not necessarily indicate a poor quality biochar, since ash values can vary widely between charcoals. Producing activated charcoal from this biochar is a favored solution; it will increase the price of the biochar, provide water security solutions, and be an appropriate process for this biochar, where heating value and underutilization of biofuel byproducts pose a problem.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

Heterogeneous Catalysis for Organic Reactions

Description

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel

This honors thesis is focused on two separate catalysis projects conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Javier Pérez-Ramírez at ETH Zürich. The first project explored ethylene oxychlorination over supported europium oxychloride catalysts. The second project investigated alkyne semihydrogenation over nickel phosphide catalysts. This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

Project 1 Abstract: Ethylene Oxychlorination
The current two-step process for the industrial process of vinyl chloride production involves CuCl2 catalyzed ethylene oxychlorination to ethylene dichloride followed by thermal cracking of the latter to vinyl chloride. To date, no industrial application of a one-step process is available. To close this gap, this work evaluates a wide range of self-prepared supported CeO2 and EuOCl catalysts for one-step production of vinyl chloride from ethylene in a fixed-bed reactor at 623 773 K and 1 bar using feed ratios of C2H4:HCl:O2:Ar:He = 3:3 6:1.5 6:3:82 89.5. Among all studied systems, CeO2/ZrO2 and CeO2/Zeolite MS show the highest activity but suffer from severe combustion of ethylene, forming COx, while 20 wt.% EuOCl/γ-Al2O3 leads to the best vinyl chloride selectivity of 87% at 15.6% C2H4 conversion with complete suppression of CO2 formation and only 4% selectivity to CO conversion for over 100 h on stream. Characterization by XRD and EDX mapping reveals that much of the Eu is present in non-active phases such as Al2Eu or EuAl4, indicating that alternative synthesis methods could be employed to better utilize the metal. A linear relationship between conversion and metal loading is found for this catalyst, indicating that always part of the used Eu is available as EuOCl, while the rest forms inactive europium aluminate species. Zeolite-supported EuOCl slightly outperforms EuOCl/γ Al2O3 in terms of total yield, but is prone to significant coking and is unstable. Even though a lot of Eu seems locked in inactive species on EuOCl/γ Al2O3, these results indicate possible savings of nearly 16,000 USD per kg of catalyst compared to a bulk EuOCl catalyst. These very promising findings constitute a crucial step for process intensification of polyvinyl chloride production and exploring the potential of supported EuOCl catalysts in industrially-relevant reactions.

Project 2 Abstract: Alkyne Semihydrogenation
Despite strongly suffering from poor noble metal utilization and a highly toxic selectivity modifier (Pb), the archetypal catalyst applied for the three-phase alkyne semihydrogenation, the Pb-doped Pd/CaCO3 (Lindlar catalyst), is still being utilized at industrial level. Inspired by the very recent strategies involving the modification of Pd with p-block elements (i.e., S), this work extrapolates the concept by preparing crystalline metal phosphides with controlled stoichiometry. To develop an affordable and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional hydrogenation catalysts, nickel, a metal belonging to the same group as Pd and capable of splitting molecular hydrogen has been selected. Herein, a simple two-step synthesis procedure involving nontoxic precursors was used to synthesize bulk nickel phosphides with different stoichiometries (Ni2P, Ni5P4, and Ni12P5) by controlling the P:Ni ratios. To uncover structural and surface features, this catalyst family is characterized with an array of methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), 31P magic-angle nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR) spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Bulk-sensitive techniques prove the successful preparation of pure phases while XPS analysis unravels the facile passivation occurring at the NixPy surface that persists even after reductive treatment. To assess the characteristic surface fingerprints of these materials, Ar sputtering was carried out at different penetration depths, reveling the presence of Ni+ and P-species. Continuous-flow three-phase hydrogenations of short-chain acetylenic compounds display that the oxidized layer covering the surface is reduced under reaction conditions, as evidenced by the induction period before reaching the steady state performance. To assess the impact of the phosphidation treatment on catalytic performance, the catalysts were benchmarked against a commercial Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 sample. While Ni/SiO2-Al2O3 presents very low selectivity to the alkene (the selectivity is about 10% at full conversion) attributed to the well-known tendency of naked nickel nanoparticles to form hydrides, the performance of nickel phosphides is highly selective and independent of P:Ni ratio. In line with previous findings on PdxS, kinetic tests indicate the occurrence of a dual-site mechanism where the alkyne and hydrogen do not compete for the same site.

This work is the subject of a publication of which I am a co-author, as cited below.

D. Albani; K. Karajovic; B. Tata; Q. Li; S. Mitchell; N. López; J. Pérez-Ramírez. Ensemble Design in Nickel Phosphide Catalysts for Alkyne Semi-Hydrogenation. ChemCatChem 2019. doi.org/10.1002/cctc.201801430

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2019-05

147875-Thumbnail Image.png

The Evaluation of Algae-Derived Activated Carbon Adsorbents for Direct CO2 Capture from Ambient Air

Description

Temperature swing adsorption is a commonly used gas separation technique, and is being<br/>further researched as a method of carbon capture. Carbon capture is becoming increasingly<br/>important as a potential way to slow global warming. In this study, algae-derived activated<br/>carbon adsorbents were

Temperature swing adsorption is a commonly used gas separation technique, and is being<br/>further researched as a method of carbon capture. Carbon capture is becoming increasingly<br/>important as a potential way to slow global warming. In this study, algae-derived activated<br/>carbon adsorbents were analyzed for their carbon dioxide adsorption effectiveness.<br/>Algae-derived carbon adsorbents were synthesized and then studied for their adsorption<br/>isotherms and adsorption breakthrough behavior. From the generated isotherm plots, it was<br/>determined that the carbonization temperature was not high enough and that more batches of<br/>adsorbent would have to be made to more accurately analyze the adsorptive potential of the<br/>algae-derived carbon adsorbent.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2021-05