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Separation of oil and other organics from water using inverse fluidization of hydrophobic aerogels

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This dissertation presents a systematic study of the sorption mechanisms of hydrophobic silica aerogel (Cabot Nanogel®) granules for oil and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in different phases. The performance of Nanogel for removing oil from laboratory synthetic oil-in-water emulsions and

This dissertation presents a systematic study of the sorption mechanisms of hydrophobic silica aerogel (Cabot Nanogel®) granules for oil and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in different phases. The performance of Nanogel for removing oil from laboratory synthetic oil-in-water emulsions and real oily wastewater, and VOCs from their aqueous solution, in both packed bed (PB) and inverse fluidized bed (IFB) modes was also investigated. The sorption mechanisms of VOCs in the vapor, pure liquid, and aqueous solution phases, free oil, emulsified oil, and oil from real wastewater on Nanogel were systematically studied via batch kinetics and equilibrium experiments. The VOC results show that the adsorption of vapor is very slow due to the extremely low thermal conductivity of Nanogel. The faster adsorption rates in the liquid and solution phases are controlled by the mass transport, either by capillary flow or by vapor diffusion/adsorption. The oil results show that Nanogel has a very high capacity for adsorption of pure oils. However, the rate for adsorption of oil from an oil-water emulsion on the Nanogel is 5-10 times slower than that for adsorption of pure oils or organics from their aqueous solutions. For an oil-water emulsion, the oil adsorption capacity decreases with an increasing proportion of the surfactant added. An even lower sorption capacity and a slower sorption rate were observed for a real oily wastewater sample due to the high stability and very small droplet size of the wastewater. The performance of Nanogel granules for removing emulsified oil, oil from real oily wastewater, and toluene at low concentrations in both PB and IFB modes was systematically investigated. The hydrodynamics characteristics of the Nanogel granules in an IFB were studied by measuring the pressure drop and bed expansion with superficial water velocity. The density of the Nanogel granules was calculated from the plateau pressure drop of the IFB. The oil/toluene removal efficiency and the capacity of the Nanogel granules in the PB or IFB were also measured experimentally and predicted by two models based on equilibrium and kinetic batch measurements of the Nanogel granules.

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Date Created
2011

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Continuous in-situ removal of butanol from clostridium acetobutylicum fermentations via expanded-bed adsorption

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The use of petroleum for liquid-transportation fuels has strained the environment and caused the global crude oil reserves to diminish. Therefore, there exists a need to replace petroleum as the primary fuel derivative. Butanol is a four-carbon alcohol that can

The use of petroleum for liquid-transportation fuels has strained the environment and caused the global crude oil reserves to diminish. Therefore, there exists a need to replace petroleum as the primary fuel derivative. Butanol is a four-carbon alcohol that can be used to effectively replace gasoline without changing the current automotive infrastructure. Additionally, butanol offers the same environmentally friendly effects as ethanol, but possess a 23% higher energy density. Clostridium acetobutylicum is an anaerobic bacterium that can ferment renewable biomass-derived sugars into butanol. However, this fermentation becomes limited by relatively low butanol concentrations (1.3% w/v), making this process uneconomical. To economically produce butanol, the in-situ product removal (ISPR) strategy is employed to the butanol fermentation. ISPR entails the removal of butanol as it is produced, effectively avoiding the toxicity limit and allowing for increased overall butanol production. This thesis explores the application of ISPR through integration of expanded-bed adsorption (EBA) with the C. acetobutylicum butanol fermentations. The goal is to enhance volumetric productivity and to develop a semi-continuous biofuel production process. The hydrophobic polymer resin adsorbent Dowex Optipore L-493 was characterized in cell-free studies to determine the impact of adsorbent mass and circulation rate on butanol loading capacity and removal rate. Additionally, the EBA column was optimized to use a superficial velocity of 9.5 cm/min and a resin fraction of 50 g/L. When EBA was applied to a fed-batch butanol fermentation performed under optimal operating conditions, a total of 25.5 g butanol was produced in 120 h, corresponding to an average yield on glucose of 18.6%. At this level, integration of EBA for in situ butanol recovered enabled the production of 33% more butanol than the control fermentation. These results are very promising for the production of butanol as a biofuel. Future work will entail the optimization of the fed-batch process for higher glucose utilization and development of a reliable butanol recovery system from the resin.

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2013

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Development of environmentally responsive multifunctional microgel particles: synthesis, characterization and applications

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Environmentally responsive microgels have drawn significant attention due to their intrinsic ability to change volume in response to various external stimuli such as pH, temperature, osmotic pressure, or electric and magnetic fields. The extent of particle swelling is controlled by

Environmentally responsive microgels have drawn significant attention due to their intrinsic ability to change volume in response to various external stimuli such as pH, temperature, osmotic pressure, or electric and magnetic fields. The extent of particle swelling is controlled by the nature of the polymer-solvent interaction. This thesis focuses on design and synthesis of environmentally responsive microgels and their composites, and encompasses methods of utilizing microgel systems in applications as vehicles for the adsorption, retention, and targeted delivery of chemical species. Furthermore, self-assembled microgel particles at ionic liquid (IL)-water interfaces demonstrate responsive colloidal lattice morphology. The thesis first reports on the fundamental aspects of synthesis, functionalization, and characteristic properties of multifunctional environmentally responsive microgels derived from poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) and other functional co-monomers. In particular, the uptake and release of active chemical species such as rheology modifiers into and from these ionic microgels is demonstrated. Moreover, a facile tunable method for the formation of organic-inorganic composites with Fe3O4 nanoparticles adsorbed and embedded within ionic microgel particles is explored. Additionally, the development of zwitterionic microgels (ZI-MG) is presented. These aqueous ZI-MG dispersions exhibit reversible parabolic swelling as a function of pH and display a minimum hydrodynamic diameter at a tunable isoelectric point (IEP). This study also elucidates the controlled uptake and release of surfactants from these particle systems. The extent of surfactant loading and the ensuing relative swelling/deswelling behaviors within the polymer networks are explained in terms of their binding interactions. The latter part of this thesis highlights the versatility of fluorescently labeled microgel particles as stabilizers for IL-water droplets. When the prepared particles form monolayers and equilibrate at the liquid-liquid interface, the colloidal lattice organization may re-order itself depending on the surface charge of these particles. Finally, it is shown that the spontaneously formed and densely packed layers of microgel particles can be employed for extraction applications, as the interface remains permeable to small active species.

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Date Created
2015

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Separations of Biofuels and Bioproducts via Magnetic Mesoporous Carbons

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The aims of this project are to demonstrate the design and implementation of separations modalities for 1) in situ product recovery and 2) upstream pretreatment of toxic feedstocks. Many value-added bioproducts such as alcohols (ethanol and butanol) developed for the

The aims of this project are to demonstrate the design and implementation of separations modalities for 1) in situ product recovery and 2) upstream pretreatment of toxic feedstocks. Many value-added bioproducts such as alcohols (ethanol and butanol) developed for the transportation sector are known to be integral to a sustainable future. Likewise, bioproduced aromatic building blocks for sustainable manufacturing such as phenol will be equally important. The production of these compounds is often limited by product toxicity at 2- 20 g/L, whereas it may desirable to produce 20-200 g/L for economically feasible scale up. While low-cost feedstocks are desirable for economical production, they contain highly cytotoxic value-added byproducts such as furfural. It is therefore desirable to design facile detoxification methods for lignocellulose-derived feedstocks to isolate and recover furfural preceding ethanol fermentation by Escherichia coli. Correspondingly it is desirable to design efficient facile in situ recovery modalities for bioalcohols and phenolic bioproducts. Accordingly, in-situ removal modalities were designed for simultaneous acetone, butanol, and ethanol recovery. Additionally, a furfural removal modality from lignocellulosic hydrolysates was designed for upstream pretreatment. Solid-liquid adsorption was found to serve well each of the recovery modalities characterized here. More hydrophobic compounds such as butanol and furfural are readily recovered from aqueous solutions via adsorption. The primary operational drawback to adsorption is adsorbent recovery and subsequent desorption of the product. Novel magnetically separable mesoporous carbon powders (MMCPs) were characterized and found to be rapidly separable from solutions at 91% recovery by mass. Thermal desorption of value added products was found efficient for recovery of butanol and furfural. Fufural was desorbed from the MMCPs up to 57% by mass with repeated adsorption/thermal desorption cycles. Butanol was recovered from MMCPs up to an average 93% by mass via thermal desorption. As another valuable renewable fermentation product, phenol was also collected via in-situ adsorption onto Dowex Optipore L-493 resin. Phenol recovery from the resins was efficiently accomplished with tert-butyl methyl ether up to 77% after 3 washes.

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Date Created
2017

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Design of Metal-Organic Frameworks for Carbon Capture Applications: Approaches for Adsorptive Separation of CO2/N2 and O2/N2 Mixtures

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The large-scale anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere leads to many unintended consequences, from rising sea levels to ocean acidification. While a clean energy infrastructure is growing, mid-term strategies that are compatible with the current infrastructure should be

The large-scale anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere leads to many unintended consequences, from rising sea levels to ocean acidification. While a clean energy infrastructure is growing, mid-term strategies that are compatible with the current infrastructure should be developed. Carbon capture and storage in fossil-fuel power plants is one way to avoid our current gigaton-scale emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, for this to be possible, separation techniques are necessary to remove the nitrogen from air before combustion or from the flue gas after combustion. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a relatively new class of porous material that show great promise for adsorptive separation processes. Here, potential mechanisms of O2/N2 separation and CO2/N2 separation are explored.

First, a logical categorization of potential adsorptive separation mechanisms in MOFs is outlined by comparing existing data with previously studied materials. Size-selective adsorptive separation is investigated for both gas systems using molecular simulations. A correlation between size-selective equilibrium adsorptive separation capabilities and pore diameter is established in materials with complex pore distributions. A method of generating mobile extra-framework cations which drastically increase adsorptive selectivity toward nitrogen over oxygen via electrostatic interactions is explored through experiments and simulations. Finally, deposition of redox-active ferrocene molecules into systematically generated defects is shown to be an effective method of increasing selectivity towards oxygen.

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Date Created
2019