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Biorefining and Second
Generation Biofuels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background

The world is going through a crucial transitionary phase where circumstances dictate that economic activity and growth need to be decoupled from net energy expenditure. Fossil fuels currently serve the majority of our needs, both energetically and chemically. However, their combustion is believed to be responsible for approximately three quarters of the anthropogenic emissions of CO2, a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The possibility of reduced fossil fuel supplies in the future, either through geo-political conflicts, or through reaching a “Hubbert Peak” in their production, are also strong drivers for a search for alternatives. Electricity-producing renewable technologies, such as solar and wind, may satisfy our power needs but the short-term implementation of non-fossil-fuel-based chemicals and transport fuels will require the utilisation of biomass, particularly in view of the fact that hydrogen and fully-electrified cars are unlikely to become viable on a mass scale for at least a decade. Governments around the world have recognised this and have implemented minimum targets for the implementation of alternative fuels in the future, with the expectation that biofuels will play a major role in these targets. For example, the EU has indicative targets of a 5.75% (by energy content) substitution of fossil fuels by 2010 and a mandatory target of 10% by 2020 while in the USA the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022.

First Generation Biofuels

Currently all commercial production of biofuels comes from the conversion of sugar, starch or oil crops (termed first-generation feedstocks). Sugar (sucrose) and starch crops have been utilised for biofuel production due to the relative ease at which their constituent reducing sugar units can be separated in water (hydrolysed) and subsequently fermented. Sucrose, a disaccharide of a-D-glucopyranose and b-D-fructofuranose, freely hydrolyses in water. Starch is a mixture of two polysaccharides: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose consists of repeating units of maltose, a disaccharide with a-(1->4)-linked D-glucopyranose units. The axial nature of the glycosidic linkage limits the strength and abundance of intermolecular hydrogen bonds and thereby hydrolysis is facilitated. Amylopectin is the major constituent of most starches. It also contains glucose units linked via a-(1->4) bonds; however there are also a-(1->6) branches that occur in plants every 24 to 30 glucose units. These branches prevent the polymer from coiling into a helix so that no compact intermolecular alignment occurs. Hence, no significant hydrogen bonding can take place. Starches can be hydrolysed efficiently by the use of inexpensive enzymes, mainly alpha-amylase and gluco-amylase, and employing moderate reaction conditions.

Despite their chemical advantages, there are drawbacks with first generation biofuels. Their costs can be high, particularly in Europe, and their net energy balance low. The utilisation of high-quality arable land for their production has said to result in competition, between biofuel and food-requirements (the so-called fuel versus food issue), for this land and for the food/oil products that are produced. The recent rise in the price of various crops (such as wheat, maize and soya beans, which have dual roles as food and biofuel feedsocks), has been attributed, by some, to the greatly increased demand for biofuels in recent years by many developed nations. Furthermore, there are socio-economic concerns regarding the effects of these increased prices and reduced food production on the public health and economies of developing nations, particularly where these nations divert indigenous food production towards satisfying the biofuel needs of the western-world. There are also concerns over the net benefits in terms of greenhouse gas production of many first generation feedstocks. For example, recent research has shown that the yield of the potent greenhouse gas, N2O, from nitrogen applications in agro-biofuel production is 3 to 5 times greater than assumed in current life cycle analyses. It is claimed that this could result in a net global warming of up to two times that which would have occurred if fossil-fuels had been used for transport instead. It is possible that in the future excise relief given for biofuels may be proportionate to how sustainable the fuel is considered to be compared with the fossil-fuel equivalent.

Second Generation Biofuels and Biorefining

Sucrose, lipids and starches are present in minor amounts only in most plants, and typically are not even the major components in most first-generation biofuel feedstocks. Most of the low-value, high-yielding biomass and wastes are termed lignocellulosic –which refers to their main constituent biopolymers of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Cellulose is the most abundant biogenic polymer in the world with estimates of 3.24 x 1011 m3 available globally and an annual production of 100 x 109 tonnes. Cellulose, like amylose, is a glucan whose D-anhydro-glucopyranose units are linked through (1->4)-glycosidic bonds: however these links are of the b-configuration. This allows intimate intermolecular associations, hydrogen bonding, and crystallinity. The end result is that cellulose is of the order of 100 times more difficult to hydrolyse than starch.

The term hemicellulose covers a variety of complex carbohydrate polymers that are mostly not extractable by hot water or chelating agents but, unlike cellulose, are extractable in aqueous alkali. These constitute the cell wall polysaccharides of land plants that are not cellulose or pectins. Hemicelluloses tend to be branched heteropolysaccharides that are mostly built up of the pentose D-xylose with smaller amounts of the pentose L-arabinose and the hexoses D-glucose, D-mannose and D-galactose, as well as some uronic acids and acetylated derivatives. Hemicelluloses have typically a much lower degree of polymerisation than cellulose and are easier to hydrolyse. Lignin is a complex three-dimensional polymer of phenylpropane units that has a carbon content around 50% (greater than that of cellulose).

The key to exploiting the chemical value of lignocellulosics is to depolymerise the lignocellulosic matrix in order to obtain smaller molecules that can be utilised, or further converted to platform chemicals and biofuels. The technologies for doing this can be termed second-generation (where biofuels are an end-product). They can also be termed biorefineries, an analogy to oil refineries since, like these, biorefineries obtain a variety of end products according to the chemical components of the starting materials. This definition of a biorefinery can also apply to biofuel facilities that process first-generation feedstocks as well as existing pulp mills and various facilities in the food industry. However, lignocellulosic feedstocks can, to a large part, avoid many of the pitfalls associated with the use of food or oil crops for the synthesis of chemicals and fuels.

Firstly, the energy costs of the whole supply cycle of these feedstocks are generally significantly lower, for example a recent life cycle analysis found that ethanol produced from switchgrass contained 540% more energy than that required for its production. Where pre-existing waste resources are used as feedstocks, the energy costs are likely to be even lower. An additional benefit, that is associated with lower energy costs, is that the life-cycle emissions of greenhouse gases are likely to be significantly lower with lignocellulosic feedstocks. For example, the same study found that estimated average greenhouse gas emissions from cellulosic ethanol derived from switchgrass were 94% lower than those from gasoline, while Adler et al. calculated that ethanol sourced from reed-canary grass could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, compared with the life cycle of gasoline, by approximately 85%, with corn-ethanol only providing a 40% reduction. Also, while the production of annual first-generation feedstocks, such as maize, can be associated with soil degradation and the loss of organic carbon from the soil, certain perennial energy crops, such as Miscanthus, avoid the need for frequent tillage while the extensive roots that they develop over their lifespan are said to result in an increase in soil organic carbon. Considering this dynamic, Adler et al. calculated that ethanol from switchgrass and hybrid poplars reduced greenhouse gas emissions (over petrol-derived transport fuels) by approximately 115%, while it has also been claimed that low-input high diversity mixtures of native grassland perennials can allow carbon-negative biofuels. Refocusing biofuel production towards second-generation technologies can also address many of the food versus fuel and socio-economic concerns addressed earlier since there will be no direct competition for food crops, waste resources can be utilised (to the mutual benefit of developed and developing nations), and land that is unsuitable for the production of food can be utilised for lignocellulosic energy crops.

The Table below lists the second generation biorefining companies that may have commercial facilities online within the next three years. The technologies and proceses employed are also mentioned as are the pilot- or demonstration-scale facilities currently operated by these companies. There are numerous other companies and technologies that are currently operational on the pilot scale and these may also become commercial in the future.

Company

Process

Main Ouputs

Current Facility
(April 2008)

Full Scale

Output

Abengoa

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

Demo plant – 5 m litres (2008)

2010

57 m l

Alico

Biocatalytic gasification

Ethanol

Pilot plant (2003)

2009

53 m l

BlueFire Ethanol

Concentrated acid hydrolysis

Ethanol

2 pilot plants, largest à 81,000 litres per yr.

2010

72 m l

Choren

Gasification and FT synthesis

FT-Diesel

Pilot plant. Demo plant (15,000 tonnes output) expected 2008

2011

200,000 tonnes

Colusa

Solvent treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

Pilot scale

2009

45 m l

Coskata

Plasma gasification and biocatalytic synthesis

Ethanol

Lab-scale. 150,000 litres (late 2008)

2011

370 m l

Iogen

Steam explosion and enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

Demo plant (2004): ~3m litres per yr

2011

90 m l

Poet

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

Pilot plant

2011

115 m l

Range Fuels

Gasification and mixed alcohol synthesis

Ethanol, methanol

Pilot plant

2008

38 m l

Royal Nedalco

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

Lab scale

2011

200 m l

Verenium

Enzymatic hydrolysis

Ethanol

3 pilot plants. Largest 1.3 m litres (2007)

2011

110 m l

There are two major pathways by which biorefineries operate: through hydrolytic mechanisms that aim to liberate free monosaccharides from the lignocellulosic polysaccharides, and through thermochemical processes that degrade more extensively the components of both polysaccharides and lignin. The various technologies available for the hydrolytic or thermochemical processing of biomass, along with their products and possible pre-treatment steps, are illustrated below:

diagram

The thermochemical processes are described on the appropiate webpage while the hydrolysis processes are discussed below.

Hydrolysis Technologies

In the hydrolysis process cellulose is hydrolysed in pure water through attack by the electrophilic hydrogen atoms of the H2O molecule on the glycosidic oxygen. This is a very slow reaction due to the recalcitrance of cellulose, but it can be speeded up using elevated temperatures and pressures, and catalysed by acids (concentrated or dilute) and highly selective enzymes such as cellulases.

Acid Hydrolysis Processes

Assuming a pre-treatment step that hydrolyses the hemicelluloses has already taken place, most current technologies either use acids or enzymes to catalyse the subsequent degradation of cellulose. The acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic materials was commercialised in the late 19th century and several dilute-acid facilities existed in the USA, Germany, Japan, and Russia by World War 1 while concentrated acid hydrolysis facilities were being built between 1937 and the late 1960’s. However, these were uneconomic where fossil fuels were available and none exist for the commercial production of ethanol fuel today. It is hoped that modern technologies, using either acids or enzymes, can reinvigorate the industry.

Most of the dilute acid hydrolysis technologies employ a dilute acid pre-treatment step under moderate temperature conditions (140-160 oC) to release the pentoses. In the second stage the temperatures are raised to 200-240 oC to facilitate the hydrolysis of cellulose and recovery of six carbon sugars. Modern experimental yields for this two-stage acid process (3 minutes per stage) are 89% for mannose, 82% for galactose, but only 50% for glucose with a glucose to ethanol conversion that is 90% of the theoretical maximum. Indeed, it is considered that this glucose yield is close to the theoretical limit possible with plug-flow reactors. It is probably the crystallinity of cellulose that limits yields, given that the rate of hydrolysis of amorphous cellulose is significantly greater than that of crystalline cellulose. Hence, conditions for the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose may degrade the sugars obtained from amorphous regions into products such as hydroxymethyl furfural and levulinic acid. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimated that a counter-current hydrolysis, where a steam pre-treatment is employed, may allow an increase in glucose yields to 84%, and an increase in fermentation yield of ethanol to 95%. Other alternatives involve the use of sulphur dioxide rather than sulphuric acid.

Concentrated acid hydrolysis technologies involve an acid (dilute or concentrated) pre-treatment to liberate the hemicellulosic sugars while the subsequent stage requires the biomass to be dried followed by the addition of concentrated sulphuric acid (70-90%). The concentrated acid converts the cellulose to a completely amorphous state. Once decrystallised, it forms a homogeneous gelatin with the acid. The cellulose is extremely susceptible to hydrolysis at this point. Thus, dilution with water at modest temperatures provides complete and rapid hydrolysis to glucose, with little degradation, particularly when compared with dilute acid treatments. Indeed, the degradation is so low that the use of concentrated sulphuric acid is an accepted test method for quantifying the monosaccharide content of the polysaccharides of biomass as well as for the Klason lignin content.

The concentrated acid hdyrolysis procedure takes approximately 10-12 hours and the concentrated acid conditions allow a greater variety of feedstocks, such as municipal wastes, than other techniques. The major problem with this process, apparent since its inception, is the need to minimise the cost involved in purchasing concentrated acid, by recovering it via effective separation from the sugars. While acid recovery rates have risen from 80% to 97% in the last 50 years, via continuous ion exchange separation techniques, the capital and operational costs involved are still higher than for dilute acid methods. 

BlueFire Ethanol received a grant of $40m from the US Department of Energy to build a commercial facility in California that will process MSW via their Arkenol concentrated acid process that has been tested at two pilot facilities. It is claimed that it will produce 72 m litres of ethanol per year from 700 tonnes per day of waste (255,000 tons per yr) at a cost of less than $1 per gallon (US). However, it is not clear if such a low price is the result of significant gate fees. Such fees are considered vital for the MSW to ethanol concentrated acid hydrolysis facility planned by Masada OxyNol for Middleton, New York.

Enzymatic Hydrolysis Processes

Most enzymatic hydrolysis technologies first employ a pre-treatment method for the hydrolysis of hemicellulose and to make a more digestible cellulose (although there has been some research on enzymatic hydrolysis of hemicellulases without prior pre-treatments). Cellulase enzymes are then used to selectively hydrolyse the cellulose to glucose. This occurs under much milder process conditions (30-70 oC) than with dilute acid hydrolysis; hence the potential for sugar degradation is significantly decreased. Indeed, it is considered that enzymatic hydrolysis may ultimately offer the highest potential yield of glucose from cellulose]. The cellulases can be obtained from a variety of micro-organisms, including bacteria and fungi. However, aerobic fungi typically give higher growth rates and are the focus of most research.

A cellulase is actually a mixture of many different enzymes each of which has a specific role in the hydrolysis of cellulose. For instance, endo-1,4-b-D-glucanases act internally within a cellulose chain at amorphous cellulose regions to cleave glyocisidc bonds, reducing the degree of polymerisation, while cellobiohydrolases degrade the cellulose chain from either the reducing or non-reducing ends and can cleave glycosidic bonds within crystalline cellulose regions releasing cellobiose. Current technologies (including those of Iogen and Genencor) produce enzymes in a separate tank to that for hydrolysis. Glucose is a poor carbon source for enzyme productivity since it favours the production of cellular mass. Inducers of cellulase include cellobiose, lactose, and sophorose. A cellulase production run lasts approximately one week after which the spent cell mass is disposed of.

There are a variety of factors that affect both the yield of sugars and the rate of hydrolysis. Regarding the biomass: cellulose crystallinity and degree of polymerisation, hemicellulose acetyl content, and increased particle size all hinder enzymatic hydrolysis. These are all considerations when selecting an appropriate pre-treatment technique. The lignin polymer is also a hindrance to hydrolysis, not only because of its absolute content, but also because of its particular composition and its associations with polysaccharides. Iogen claims that the efficiency of cellulose hydrolysis is dependant on the arabino-xylan content of the feedstock and that feedstocks, such as softwoods, with low levels demand unacceptably high levels of enzymes. Enzymes are also somewhat sensitive to contaminants such as silica. Thus, the range of feedstocks that are considered suitable for enzymatic treatment have been somewhat limited to date.

The products of cellulose hydrolysis, such as glucose and cellobiose, can also be inhibiting to cellulase activity. Hence these need to be removed by some means or an oversupply of enzymes will be necessary. A high substrate concentration may increase rates and yields. However, if the ratio of substrate to cellulase is too high inhibition may occur. Hydrolysis can also be facilitated through the addition of surfactants, other enzymes (e.g. pectinase), and by using a mixture of enzymes from other organisms.

Activity at Carbolea

Here at Carbolea we consider that our research covers an important and novel niche in the biorefining sector. Our focus is primarily on the utilisation of waste and residual materials (for example biodegradable municipal waste, agricultural residues and lignocellulosic industrial wastes) and on abiotic mechamisms for the production of fuels and chemicals other than ethanol. Our activities in pyrolysis and gasification are described elsewhere, however, we are also developing a hydrolysis process in our DIBANET project. This process focuses on using acids, catalysts and ionic liquids to produce the plaform chemicals levulinic acid, furfural and formic acid from the polysaccharides of feedstocks. The highly ligneous residue is then a potential feedstock for thermochemical processing. More information about our current projects related to the evaluation of biorefining technologies and the development of biorefining hydrolysis processes can be obtained from the relevant webpages which are linked to below.

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Summary Statistics

Carbolea
Total

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

Total
for Last
5 Years

Journal Papers

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

Book Chapters

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

Conference Papers

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Presentations

11

0

0

0

0

0

0

Posters

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Videos

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

Reports

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Patents

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

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Journal Articles

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Hayes, D. J. M. (2013) Second-generation biofuels: why they are taking so long, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 2(3):304–334

Click for abstract
There has been a significant degree of hype regarding the commercial potential of second?generation biofuels (2GBs; biofuels sourced from lignocellulosic materials). In 2007, ambitious targets for the mass substitution of fossil?fuel?derived transport fuels by 2GBs were put forward in the United States and similar targets exist for other countries. However, as of May 2012, no commercial?scale 2GB facilities are currently operating. The technical and financial obstacles that have delayed the deployment of these facilities are discussed, as are recent advancements in research that may help to overcome some of these. There are six commercial?scale facilities currently (May, 2012) in construction and many more are planned in the near term. The prospects for 2GBs are more promising now than in the past but the delays in getting to this point mean that the ambitious targets of several years ago are unlikely to be reached in the near term.


Girisuta, B.K. DussanD. HavertyJ.J. LeahyM.H.B. Hayes (2013) A kinetic study of acid catalysed hydrolysis of sugarcane bagasse to levulinic acid, Chemical Engineering Journal 217:61-70

Click for abstract
There is a significant research effort worldwide to identify attractive chemical conversion routes for lignocellulosic biomass to organic (bulk-)chemicals. This study has focussed on the acid-catalysed hydrolysis of sugar cane bagasse for the production of levulinic acid (LA), a platform chemical used for the synthesis of a variety of materials for applications such as fuel additives and polymer and resin precursors. The objectives of this study were to develop a broadly applicable kinetic model for the acid-catalysed hydrolysis of sugar cane bagasse to LA and to determine the optimum reaction conditions for its production. Systematic kinetic experiments were carried out by varying the reaction temperature between 150 and 200 °C, and the sulphuric acid concentration between 0.11 and 0.55 M. The highest LA yield was obtained at 150 °C and 0.55 M H2SO4 at 63 mol%, which equates to the production of 194 kg of LA from 1 dry tonne of sugar cane bagasse. The kinetic model developed was in good agreement with the experimental data and also with the previous kinetic models developed for cellulose and sugar cane bagasse. Our kinetic model, though developed for the sugar cane bagasse, can be applied over a wide range of hydrolysis reaction conditions for lignocellulosic biomass. Based on the optimisation study carried out using our kinetic model, an empirical equation is proposed to predict the LA yield at a particular temperature and acid concentration.


Hayes, D. J. M. (2013) Mass and Compositional Changes, Relevant to Biorefining, in Miscanthus x giganteus Plants over the Harvest Window , Bioresource Technology 142:591–602

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Miscanthus plants were sampled from several plantations in Ireland over the harvest window (October-April). These were separated into their anatomical components and the loss of leaves monitored. Three distinct phases were apparent: there was minimal loss in the “Early” (October to early December) and “Late” (March and April) phases, and rapid leaf loss in the interim period. Samples were analysed for constituents relevant to biorefining. Changes in whole-plant composition included increases in glucose and Klason lignin contents and decreases in ash and arabinose contents. These changes arose mostly from the loss of leaves, but there were some changes over time within the harvestable plant components. Although leaves yield less biofuel than stems, the added biomass provided by an early harvest (31.9 to 38.4%) meant that per hectare biofuel yields were significantly greater (up to 29.3%) than in a late harvest. These yields greatly exceed those from first generation feedstocks.


Haverty, D.Dussan, K.Piterina, A. V.Leahy J. J.Hayes, M. H. B. (2012) Autothermal, single-stage, performic acid pretreatment of Miscanthus x giganteus for the rapid fractionation of its biomass components into a lignin/hemicellulose-rich liquor and a cellulase-digestible pulp, Bioresource Technology 109:173-177

Click for abstract
A novel approach to the performic acid pulping of biomass enables effective delignification and fractionation in a time frame not achieved heretofore. An autothermal decomposition reaction was triggered when 100 mg/L Fe2(SO4)3 in 4.0 M NaOH was added to 5% or 7.5% H2O2 in aqueous formic acid containing chipped Miscanthus x giganteus. Peroxy-decomposition resulted in pressures of 19 and 35 bar in the 5% and 7.5% peroxide liquors and reduced the lignin content in the resulting pulps to <6% within 140 and 30 min, respectively. Solubilised lignin was available for recovery from the liquor by subsequent dilution with water. Hemicellulose removal to the liquor was 68% and 89% for the 5% and 7.5% peroxide solutions. Crystalline cellulose yields were >99% and >95% and the rate of glucose release from cellulase digestion of the pulps in 24 h was more than 20-fold that for the raw Miscanthus

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Melligan, F.Dussan, K., Auccaise, R., Novotny, E. H., Leahy, J. J.Hayes, M. H. B.Kwapinski, W. (2012) Characterisation of the products from pyrolysis of residues after acid hydrolysis of MiscanthusBioresource Technology 108:258-263

Click for abstract
Platform chemicals such as furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural are major products formed during the acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass in second generation biorefining processes. Solid hydrolysis residues (HR) can amount to 50 wt.% of the starting biomass materials. Pyrolysis of the HRs gives rise to biochar, bio-liquids, and gases. Time and temperature were variables during the pyrolysis of HRs in a fixed bed tubular reactor, and both parameters have major influences on the amounts and properties of the products. Biochar, with potential for carbon sequestration and soil conditioning, composed about half of the HR pyrolysis product. The amounts (11–20 wt.%) and compositions (up to 77% of phenols in organic fraction) of the bio-liquids formed suggest that these have little value as fuels, but could be sources of phenols, and the gas can have application as a fuel.


Girisuta B., Kalogiannis, K. G., Dussan, K.Leahy, J. J.Hayes, M. H. B., Stefanidis, S. (2012) An integrated process for the production of platform chemicals and diesel miscible fuels by acid-catalyzed hydrolysis and downstream upgrading of the acid hydrolysis residues with thermal and catalytic pyrolysis, Bioresource Technology 126:92-100

Melligan, FergusKarla Dussan, Ruben Auccaise, Etelvino H Novotny, James J LeahyMichael H.B. HayesWitold Kwapinski (2012) Characterisation of the products from pyrolysis of residues after acid hydrolysis of Miscanthus, Bioresource Technology 108:258-263

Click for abstract
Platform chemicals such as furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural are major products formed during the acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass in second generation biorefining processes. Solid hydrolysis residues (HR) can amount to 50 wt.% of the starting biomass materials. Pyrolysis of the HRs gives rise to biochar, bio-liquids, and gases. Time and temperature were variables during the pyrolysis of HRs in a fixed bed tubular reactor, and both parameters have major influences on the amounts and properties of the products. Biochar, with potential for carbon sequestration and soil conditioning, composed about half of the HR pyrolysis product. The amounts (11-20 wt.%) and compositions (up to 77% of phenols in organic fraction) of the bio-liquids formed suggest that these have little value as fuels, but could be sources of phenols, and the gas can have application as a fuel.


Hayes, D. J.Hayes, M. H. B. (2009) The role that lignocellulosic feedstocks and various biorefining technologies can play in meeting Ireland’s biofuel targets, Biofpr 3(5):500-520

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This paper considers the contribution that biorefineries, through the production of second-generation biofuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks, can make in the Republic of Ireland to the mandated 10% transport biofuel quotient for 2020. An emphasis is placed on the avoidance of land-use conflict issues and, hence, on the prioritization of waste/residue utilization before dedicated energy crops are grown. It is concluded that up to 5.3% of the 2010 demand for biofuels can be met from the utilization of feasible quantities of wastes and residues in near-term biorefining technologies and that 5% of the 2020 petrol and diesel demand can be met via processing a similar quantity of waste in advanced biorefining processes based on consolidated bioprocessing micro-organisms and syngas-reforming catalysts. The remaining biofuel requirements for 2020 can be met by processing energy crops. Between 1.4% and 15.9% of the agricultural area of Ireland is required for the production of these crops, depending on the particular feedstock and technology employed. The production of a high-yielding Miscanthus crop that is harvested directly after senescence will place the minimum requirement on Irish land.

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Hayes, D. J. (2008) An Examination of Biorefining Processes, Catalysts and Challenges, Catalysis Today 145(1-2):138-151

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Biofuels offer the potential to substitute for a large proportion of fossil fuels, however it is considered that the utilisation of lignocellulosic biomass, via second-generation biorefining technologies, will be necessary for this to be achieved economically and sustainably. The lignocellulosic matrix is complex and recalcitrant to conversion but research in biorefining is advancing rapidly and commercial facilities are expected in the near-term. These facilities will either employ hydrolytic mechanisms to break apart the structural polysaccharides of the biomass, or thermochemical procedures to dehydrate and volatilise the feedstock. Catalysts serve vital roles in both approaches: acids and enzymes facilitate the hydrolysis of cellulose; while metal and biological catalysts can alter the volatilisation profiles of biomass or reform the gases that are liberated in the thermochemical process. Each potential biorefining technology currently has its own drawbacks and advantages and it is likely that a range of procedures will be needed in order to fully exploit the values of very diverse ranges of lignocellulosic feedstocks.

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Book Chapters

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Hayes, D.J.M.  (2013) Biomass composition and its relevance to biorefining, The Role of Catalysis for the Sustainable Production of Biofuels and Bio-chemicals, K. Triantafyllidis, A. Lappas, M. Stoker, Elsevier B. V. 27-65

Click for abstract
Biomass feedstocks for the production of biofuels and chemicals vary greatly in their chemical compositions. These differences affect which technologies are used for processing. First generation technologies focus on the conversion of sugars, starches, and oils whilst second generation technologies process lignocellulose. While the conversion in first generation processes is relatively facile, the processing of lignocellulose is hindered by the complexity of the biomass matrix. Lignocellulosic feedstocks, however, tend to be significantly less costly, in economic, environmental, and energy terms, to produce. The effects of the various constituents on the conversion of biomass by either hydrolytic or thermochemical means are discussed, as are the logistical considerations needed when sourcing feedstocks. Biomass can be classified as a specifically grown energy crop, an agricultural residue, or a waste resource. Several examples of lignocellulosic feedstocks are discussed for each of these types and representative chemical data for a variety of materials presented.


Hayes, D. J.Hayes, M. H. B., Daly, M. M. (2006) Operaçăo inovadora de biorrefino para produçăo de oleos combustiveis e de quimico-platforma a partir de carboidratos de biomassa e de residuos diversos,  Usos alternativos da palhada residual da produçăo de sementes para pastagens, F. H. D. de Souza, E. B. Pott, O. Primavesi, A. C. C. Bernardi, EMBRAPA, Sao Carlos, SP, Brazil:161-191

Hayes, D. J., Fitzpatrick, S. W., Hayes, M. H. B.Ross, J. R. H. (2005) The Biofine Process: Production of levulinic acid, furfural and formic acid from lignocellulosic feedstocks, Biorefineries: Industrial Processes and Products, B. Kamm, P. R. Gruber , M. Kamm, Wiley, Weinheim, Germany 1:139-164
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Conference Proceedings

Untitled Document

Hayes, D. J. (2004) Oil substitutes utilising humic precursors: The development of a carbohydrate economy, Humic Substances and Soil and Water Environment,  L. Martin-Neto, EMBRAPA, Sao Carlos, SP, Brazil:11-13


Presentations

Untitled Document

Hayes, D. J. M.  (2012) DIBANET, An integrated approach for making the best use of biomass, 1st Iberoamerican Congress on Biorefineries, Los Cabos, Mexico, Oct 24-26
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Hayes, M.H.B. (2012) Production of platform chemicals in the DIBANET Project using novel pre-treatment methods and acid hydrolysis, Congress of Bioenergy, Xi’an, China, April 27th

Hayes, M.H.B. (2012) Platform chemicals and fuel additives from lignocellulosic biomass, CREES International Symposium, Dublin City University, June 4-6

Hayes, D. J. M. (2012) Collaboration in Biorefinery Research Between Europe and Latin America, III Latin American Congress Biorefineries, Pucon, Chile, 19-21 Nov
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Hayes, M. H. B. (2011) Second Generation Biorefining, CHEMRAWN XIX, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sept. 28 2011
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Hayes, D. J. M. (2010) Introduction to the Biorefinery Concept, DIBANET Networking Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dec 13 2010
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Hayes, D. J. M. (2010) Biomass Research at Carbolea, University of Limerick, Globe Forum, Dublin, Ireland, Nov 18th 2010
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Byrne, C. M. P. (2010) Biochar from Biorefinery Residuals, 3rd International Biochar Conference: IBI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep. 12 – 15, 2010
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Hayes, D. J. (2010) European feedstocks, DIBANET Networking Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dec 13 2010
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Hayes, M. H. B. (2009) DIBANET - The Production of Sustainable Diesel Miscible Biofuels from the Residues and Wastes of Europe and Latin America, Tailor Made Fuels from Biomass, University of Aachen, Germany, June 24th 2009
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Hayes, M. H. B. (2009) Second Generation Biorefining for Sustainable Indigenous Industries for Ireland, Feasta "New Emergency Conference", Dublin, Ireland, June 11th 2009
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Posters

Untitled Document

Byrne, C. M. P. (2009) DIBANET - Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network, IRCSET 2009 Symposium - Innovation Fuelling the Smart Society, Dublin, 25 Sep 2009
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Videos

Untitled Document

Haverty, D. (2012) Levulinic Acid Reactor and Process Development, DIBANET Networking Day, Thessaloniki, Greece, 31 Oct 2012

Click for abstract



Hayes, M. H. B. (2009) Second Generation Biorefining for Sustainable Indigenous Industries for Ireland, Feasta "New Emergency Conference", Dublin, Ireland

Click for abstract
In this presentation, biorefining processes are outlined, with discussion of acid versus enzymatic hydrolysis for lignocellulose biorefinery feedstocks. The products of high temperature/high pressure biorefining processes yielding furfural, levulinic acid, formic acid, and biorefinery residuals are illustrated, and the extents to which the chemical products can provide platform chemicals and fuel additives are discussed. Emphasis is given to pyrolysis products (gases, bio-oil and biochar) of the residuals, and of the potential to upgrade the bio-oil to fuel additive products, and to the uses of the biochar in soil amendment processes. The presentation can be downloaded here and a video of it can be watched here or below.

   




Reports

Untitled Document

Hayes, D. J. M. (2011) Analysis of Lignocellulosic Feedstocks for Biorefineries with a Focus on The Development of Near Infrared Spectroscopy as a Primary Analytical Tool, PhD Thesis:832 pages (over 2 volumes)

Click for abstract
The 2 volumes of the thesis can also be downloaded separately.

Volume 1, Volume 2, Viva Presentation

Abstract:

The processing of lignocellulosic materials in modern biorefineries will allow for the production of transport fuels and platform chemicals that could replace petroleum-derived products. However, there is a critical lack of relevant detailed compositional information regarding feedstocks relevant to Ireland and Irish conditions. This research has involved the collection, preparation, and the analysis, with a high level of precision and accuracy, of a large number of biomass samples from the waste and agricultural sectors. Not all of the waste materials analysed are considered suitable for biorefining; for example the total sugar contents of spent mushroom composts are too low. However, the waste paper/cardboard that is currently exported from Ireland has a chemical composition that could result in high biorefinery yields and so could make a significant contribution to Ireland’s biofuel demands.

Miscanthus was focussed on as a major agricultural feedstock. A large number of plants have been sampled over the course of the harvest window (October to April) from several sites. These have been separated into their anatomical fractions and analysed. This has allowed observations to be made regarding the compositional trends observed within plants, between plants, and between harvest dates. Projections are made regarding the extents to which potential chemical yields may vary. For the DIBANET hydrolysis process that is being developed at the University of Limerick, per hectare yields of levulinic acid from Miscanthus could be 20% greater when harvested early compared with a late harvest.

The wet-chemical analysis of biomass is time-consuming. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has been developed as a rapid primary analytical tool with separate quantitative models developed for the important constituents of Miscanthus, peat, and (Australian) sugarcane bagasse. The work has demonstrated that accurate models are possible, not only for dry homogenous samples, but also for wet heterogeneous samples. For glucose (cellulose) the root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) for wet samples is 1.24% and the R2 for the validation set (R_val^2) is 0.931. High accuracies are even possible for minor analytes; e.g. for the rhamnose content of wet Miscanthus samples the RMSEP is 0.03% and the R_val^2 is 0.845. Accurate models have also been developed for pre-treated Miscanthus samples and are discussed. In addition, qualitative models have been developed. These allow for samples to be discriminated for on the basis of plant fraction, plant variety (giganteus/non-giganteus), harvest-period (early/late), and stand-age (one-year/older).

Quantitative NIRS models have also been developed for peat, although the heterogeneity of this feedstock means that the accuracies tend to be lower than for Miscanthus. The development of models for sugarcane bagasse has been hindered, in some cases, by the limited chemical variability between the samples in the calibration set. Good models are possible for the glucose and total sugars content, but the accuracy of other models is poorer. NIRS spectra of Brazilian bagasse samples have been projected onto these models, and onto those developed for Miscanthus, and the Miscanthus models appear to provide a better fit than the Australian bagasse models.

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Patents

Untitled Document

Haverty, D. (2012) Lignocellulose processing, Patent Application #PCT/IE2012/000014

Projects

Current Projects

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DIBANET

Carbolea is co-ordinating a large FP7 project that involves close collaboration between 13 partners, 7 from Latin America and 6 from Europe. The focus of this project is on the sustainable production of diesel miscible biofuels from the residues and wastes of both regions.

 

 


EPA Funded - Analysis of Irish Waste Materials

The EPA STRIVE programme has funded a project that will allow Carbolea researchers to analyse, in detail, the various waste materials that arise in Ireland. The laboratory analysis will be geared towards looking for components relevant to hydrolysis or thermochemical biorefining technologies. Near Infrared Spectroscopy will also be integrated into the analytical protocol and its utility in the rapid analysis of waste will be assessed. The primary compositional data will inform a comparison between utilising these waste materials in biorefineries compare with more traditional means of waste treatment.

 

 


Evaluate Agricultural Feedstocks and Biorefining Technologies

In association with the Department of Agriculture, UL researchers are undertaking a desk-based evaluation of biorefining technologies and feedstocks for Ireland with a focus on the products of the agricultural sector. This work also involves a signifcant amount of lab-work characterising these feedstocks.

 

 


Completed Projects

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Peat Analysis for Biorefining Processes

Various types of peats have been collected and analysed via wet chemical and spectroscopic techniques. The resulting compositional data have enabled predictions to be made concerning the value of these peats in various biorefining technologies.

 

 


Personnel Involved

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Post-Doc

Post Doc. working on the analysis of biomass and the development of Near Infrared Spectroscopy as a primary analytical tool. Has a leading role in the DIBANET project.


Adjunct Professor

Expertise in soil and carbohydrate chemistry. Has lectured extensively on biorefining and biochar.


Senior Lecturer

An expert in analytical chemistry, biodiesel, and biomass combustion, pyrolysis, and gasification. Member of the Charles Parsons Initiative.


Post-Doc

Is involved in the design of a hydrolysis reactor for the DIBANET project.


PhD Student

PhD student, from Colombia but undertaking a full PhD at Carbolea, funded by the DIBANET Latin American Scholarship scheme. Her research focuses on novel biomass pretreatment techniques.


PhD Student

PhD student. Guglielmo (William) is studying novel carbon based acid catalyst for second generation biofuels production.


PhD Student

PhD Student. Áine's research is focused on producing a catalyst which can achieve high conversion and selectivity of furfural to furfuryl alcohol at a low temperature and pressure together with remaining active post hydrogenation.


Technician

Is responsible for the preparation and analysis of biomass samples in the Carbolea laboratories.


News Articles

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07 Sep 2013

XIth European Congress on Catalysis
1st - 6th September 2013 in Lyon, France

Dr. Dmitri Bulushev was giving a lecture at the XI. EuropaCat on "Hydrogen from Biomass Derived Formic Acid at about Ambient Temperature: Effective Pd/C Catalysts Doped by Potassium Ions"
Abstract:
The rates of hydrogen production from formic acid over Pd/C catalysts increased 1-2 orders of magnitude by doping with potassium ions. The doped catalysts were stable and gave low level of CO (<30 ppm). Highly dispersed K formate can be a key intermediate providing improved hydrogen generation on Pd sites.

The members Lijun Jia, Barbara Schaller and Áine O'Driscoll were presenting their projects on posters.

"Pt Fine Clusters Supported on Ni-doped Carbon Nanofibers as Active Sites for Hydrogen Production from Formic Acid" by Lijun Jia

"Direct Catalytic Conversion of Bio-Methane to Methanol" by Barbara Schaller

"The Catalytic Hydrogenation of Furfurfal" by Áine O'Driscoll


15 Feb 2013

Video Describing the DIBANET Hydrolysis Technology Uploaded to Carbolea

A presentation made by Carbolea member Dr Donncha Haverty at the DIBANET Networking Day in Thessaloniki, Greece has been uploaded. It contains his description of the state of the art biorefining technology that has been developed at Carbolea.


04 Dec 2012

Review of the Commercial Prospects of Second Generation Biofuels Available Online

A new review paper by Carbolea member Daniel Hayes entitled "Second-generation biofuels: why they are taking so long" has been published online.

Abstract:
There has been a significant degree of hype regarding the commercial potential of second-generation biofuels (2GBs; biofuels sourced from lignocellulosic materials). In 2007, ambitious targets for the mass substitution of fossil-fuel-derived transport fuels by 2GBs were put forward in the United States and similar targets exist for other countries. However, as of May 2012, no commercial-scale 2GB facilities are currently operating. The technical and financial obstacles that have delayed the deployment of these facilities are discussed, as are recent advancements in research that may help to overcome some of these. There are six commercial?scale facilities currently (May, 2012) in construction and many more are planned in the near term. The prospects for 2GBs are more promising now than in the past but the delays in getting to this point mean that the ambitious targets of several years ago are unlikely to be reached in the near term.


02 Dec 2012

Pilot-Scale Pretreatment Reactor Constructed

A pilot-scale reactor system has been constructed and tested. This employs the patented pretreatment technology, developed as part of the DIBANET project, for the separation of biomass into its lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose components.

It has been shown that the pretreatment process can allow for higher yields of levulinic acid and furfural in the DIBANET hydrolysis process and the lignin fraction is also recoverable and of high value. The system is housed in an industrial state in Nenagh, close to the University of Limerick, where the continuous pilot-scale DIBANET hydrolysis reactor system is also located.


01 Dec 2012

Petrobras Joins DIBANET as a Project Partner

We are pleased to announce that Petrobras has joined the DIBANET consortium, which is headed by Carbolea.

Petrobras, a major Brazilian energy corporation that produces enough oil to meet the needs of Brazil, has shown increasing interest in recent years in the production of sustainable biofuels and chemicals. The Company, which has been collaborating with Prof. Victor Teixeira da Silva, a researcher at DIBANET partner UFRJ, for some time, became interested in the DIBANET project during the Summer School and Networking Event, organised by Prof. Teixeira for the project, in Rio de Janeiro in 2010.

DIBANET project leader Prof. Michael Hayes, remarked that: “The addition of Petrobras to the DIBANET consortium is a significant event and a great reflection of the progress that has been achieved in the project. Petrobras will be of immense help in allowing us to determine the most appropriate ways to advance towards the commercialisation of the advanced processes that we have developed over the past three years”.


27 Nov 2012

DIBANET Feedstocks Report and Guidelines of Best Practice

A report discussing the analytical results obtained for European and Latin American biomass feedstocks as part of the DIBANET project can now be downloaded from Cabolea in full length (150 pages) and also in abridged form (16 pages).

These reports are useful companions to the DIBANET Chemical Database.


22 Nov 2012

Fergus Melligan Awarded PhD

Carbolea member Fergus Melligan today passed his PhD viva. His thesis is entitled “Pyrolysis of Biomass and Biorefinery Residual Materials for the Production of Advanced Biofuels”. He has been involved in the DIBANET project producing and characterising biochar and bio-oil from the acid hydrolysis residues. He has also carried out pot-trials to determine the effects that the addition of this biochar to soil may have on plant growth.


19 Nov 2012

Daniel Hayes Presents at III Latin American Congress on Biorefineries

Today Carbolea Member Daniel Hayes gave a presentation entitled "Collaboration in Biorefinery Research Between Europe and Latin America" at the III Latin American Congress on Biorefineries in Pucon, Chile. This talk covered the work that Carbolea has undertaken as part of the DIBANET project.

The presentation can be accessed here.


31 Oct 2012

DIBANET Networking Day Held in Thessaloniki, Greece

The DIBANET research consortium presented the "Diesel miscible fuels from wastes, residues and non-food crops of Latin America & Europe" Networking event today at CERTH, in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The aim of the event was to bring together key players in scientific communities and industry to discuss how Europe and Latin America can work together to produce diesel fuels sustainably and cheaply. The DIBANET processes and the key results of the project were presented.

The presentations and posters are available in the "Agenda" and "Poster" sections of the DIBANET website.


29 Oct 2012

Final DIBANET Project Meeting Held in Thessaloniki, Greece

The final meeting of the DIBANET project was held between 29-31 October at the headquarters of project partner CERTH in Thessaloniki, Greece.

This meeting allowed for partners to put forward the excellent results that have been achieved in the project and to also discuss the final area remaining; the financial and technical modelling of the DIBANET process chain.


25 Oct 2012

Daniel Hayes Presents at 1st Iberoamerican Congress on Biorefineries

Today Carbolea Member Daniel Hayes gave a presentation entitled "DIBANET, An integrated approach for making the best use of biomass" at the 1st Iberoamerican Congress on Biorefineries in Los Cabos, Mexico. This talk covered the work that Carbolea has undertaken as part of the DIBANET project.

The presentation can be accessed here.


25 Jun 2012

DIBANET Project Meeting Held at Carbolea

A review meeting for the EU FP7 project DIBANET was held at Carbolea. This was attended by numerous project partners from Europe and Latin America. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to present the recent progress made and to discuss ways in which this can be moved forward in a commercial context. The meeting also involved an excursion to the operational DIBANET pilot reactor system. Some photos are included below.


18 May 2012

Prof Erik Heeres and Prof Hans de Vries visited Carbolea group

Two distinctive researchers from University of Groningen (Holland) visited our labs and pilot plant installation for acid hydrolysis of biomass (DIBANET). Both parties will be looking for possible research collaborations. The guests gave a lectures on "Recent developments in pyrolysis oil upgrading" - Erik Heeres and "HMF synthesis and derivatives" and "Cashew nut valorisation" - Hans de Vries.


15 Jan 2012

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne Graduate with PhDs

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne today attended a graduation ceremeny and received their PhDs. Dan was supervised by Dr J. J. Leahy and his thesis was entitled "Analysis of Lignocellulosic Feedstocks for Biorefineries with a Focus on The Development of Near Infrared Spectroscopy as a Primary Analytical Tool". Corinna was supervised by Prof. Michael Hayes and her thesis was entitled "Studies of the Organic Matter Components in Irish Grassland Soils and Their Drainage Waters".

Daniel Hayes's PhD Viva presentation can be downloaded here, and the Thesis can also be downloaded from Carbolea: Volume 1, Volume 2.


11 Jan 2012

Paper on DIBANET Pretreatment Process Published Online

A new paper, written by several members of the Carbolea DIBANET team, was published online today. It covers the development of a new pretreatment process for biomass. The paper is entitled "Autothermal, single-stage, performic acid pretreatment of Miscanthus x giganteus for the rapid fractionation of its biomass components into a lignin/hemicellulose-rich liquor and a cellulase-digestible pulp" and can be obtained, by those with ScienceDirect subscriptions here or can be downloaded directly from Carbolea.

This work describes a novel pretreatment process suitable for Second Generation Biorefining, which is able to separate the main substrates in biomass through a fast and efficient oxidative reaction. A detailed compositional characterization of the products of the process is included, as well as the evaluation of the enzymatic hydrolysis of the cellulosic fraction separated from Miscanthus during the experiments. The paper shows how cellulose in biomass can be separated as a solid product from the lignin and hemicellulose components in solution in a hydrogen peroxide and formic acid system. The lignin is recovered as a precipitate when the solution extract is diluted with water.

Abstract: A novel approach to the performic acid pulping of biomass enables effective delignification and fractionation in a time frame not achieved heretofore. An autothermal decomposition reaction was triggered when 100 mg/L Fe2(SO4)3 in 4.0 M NaOH was added to 5% or 7.5% H2O2 in aqueous formic acid containing chipped Miscanthus x giganteus. Peroxy-decomposition resulted in pressures of 19 and 35 bar in the 5% and 7.5% peroxide liquors and reduced the lignin content in the resulting pulps to <6% within 140 and 30 min, respectively. Solubilised lignin was available for recovery from the liquor by subsequent dilution with water. Hemicellulose removal to the liquor was 68% and 89% for the 5% and 7.5% peroxide solutions. Crystalline cellulose yields were >99% and >95% and the rate of glucose release from cellulase digestion of the pulps in 24 h was more than 20-fold that for the raw Miscanthus.

Haverty, D., Dussan, K., Piterina, A. V., Leahy J. J., Hayes, M. H. B. (2012) Autothermal, single-stage, performic acid pretreatment of Miscanthus x giganteus for the rapid fractionation of its biomass components into a lignin/hemicellulose-rich liquor and a cellulase-digestible pulp, Bioresource Technology (109), 173-177


09 Jan 2012

DIBANET Meeting Takes Places in Santiago, Chile

A DIBANET project review meeting took place at the headquarters of project partner Fundacion Chile, in Santiago, Chile, between Jan 9-11. Extensive discussions took place regarding the significant work achieved so far in the project and how future work should proceed.


01 Dec 2011

Mark Asworth Moves to TCBB

Carbolea member Mark Ashworth has moved from working on the DIBANET project to a new position in the TCBB project (The Technology Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy). This project involves the organisation of industry members, academic experts, institutions and government agencies working together to expedite the commercial development of the vast potential of the Irish biomass resource. Mark's previous work as a Research Assistant has helped him develop a substantial wealth of experience and analytical skill primarily focused on the preparation and chemical analysis of energy crops, peat, agricultural residues and wastes. Mark's new position involves greater responsibilities and duties such as conducting routine preventative maintenance and servicing to sustain peak performance levels and trouble-free operation (a role including the training and supervision of students) on equipment and instrumentation within the Carbolea labs. Other roles include assisting with planning, establishing, implementing, and maintaining a variety of occupational health, safety, and environmental programs to assure the highest possible degree of safety and operation for students and employees between the Carbolea Laboratories and the Chemical and Environmental Science dept. to ensure these function within the codes and practices of the University.


28 Sep 2011

Michael Hayes Presents at IUPAC XIX Conference in Kuala Lumpur

Michael Hayes today gave a presentation at CHEMRAWN XIX in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His talk covered many of the areas of study at Carbolea, including the DIBANET project and biochar. The presentation can be downloaded here. Another presentation was given by Prof. Roger Swift, of the University of Queensland, in conjunction with Prof. Hayes on Sep 29th. That presentation can be downloaded here.


29 Aug 2011

Carbolea Student Attends 1st European Training Course on Biorefining

The biorefining training course took place in Paris from August 29th to September 1st, and it was organized by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique – INRA (France) and the SEVAB graduate school (University of Toulouse), in collaboration with partners of the FP7 european project BIOCORE. The training sessions included topics such as biotechnology, Green Biorefinery, Sustainability, and new challenges in the Biorefining industry. Some additional modules included as well topics such as the design, optimization and multicriteria assessment of biorefinery processes. The summerschool dedicated one day to visit the biorefining complex at Bazancourt, which has several companies and enterpreneur projects directed by Agro Industrie Recherchers & Developments – ARD. ARD is a developing company created in 1989 with expertise in biomass fractionation, biotechnology, bio-based chemistry. Its facilities include a 2000 tons capacity plant which processes currently maize and sugarbeet for the production of fuel ethanol. Other projects are part of this complex, such as Futurol and CMV (biomass fractionation). You can check the training modules of the summerschool, which are available as videos here. This event was attended by Carbolea member Karla Dussan.


10 Aug 2011

Review of Catalysis in Biomass Conversion Published

Carbolea members Dmitri Bulushev and Julian R.H. Ross have published a review article entitled "Catalysis for conversion of biomass to fuels via pyrolysis and gasification: a review". This review has entered the list of Top Hottest Downloaded articles of the Catalysis Today journal for January-March, 2011. It is expected that it will be still in this list in the future. This review contains 126 references and can be strongly recommended for students and researchers who are starting their work on catalytic conversion of biomass via pyrolysis and gasification. The paper can be obtained from ScienceDirect or downloaded directly from Carbolea.

Abstract. A current aim of society is to produce fuels from non-food biomass and catalysis is central to achieving this aim. Catalytic steam-reforming of biomass gives synthesis gas and this can be further transformed to give transport fuels using catalysis. Biofuels and fuel additives can also be obtained by catalytic upgrading of bio-oil produced by non-catalytic pyrolysis of biomass. This upgrading can be performed by low tem- perature esterification with alcohols (followed by water separation) or by high temperature gasification, cracking or hydrotreating processes. Upgraded bio-oil can also be obtained by pyrolysis of biomass in the presence of catalysts. This review considers recent trends in the chemistry of these processes for biofuel production and the catalysts used.

Bulushev,D.A., Ross,J.R.H. Catalysis for conversion of biomass to fuels via pyrolysis and gasification: a review. Catalysis Today 171 (2011) 1


29 Jun 2011

DIBANET Meeting Takes Places in Thessaloniki, Greece

DIBANET held its second project review meeting in Thessaloniki on 29 June and 1 July. The meeting included a general review of work-to-date and advance on the different components of the project. The meeting was hosted by the Chemical Process Engineering Research Institute (CPERI). In addition, partner leaders and technical presentations were attended by Hube Stassen, reviewer on behalf of FP7 direction and European expert on the thermochemical conversion of biomass.
Some of the most relevant progress is summarized as follow:

- A potential fast-pretreatment technology has been developed at the University of Limerick to fractionate biomass in an efficient and fast stage before the acid hydrolysis for the production of levulinic acid.

- Advances were shown at the University of Limerick regarding to the construction of a pilot-scale continuous unit that will evaluate optimal operational conditions both in the pretreatment and hydrolysis stage for the levulinic acid production.

- New materials and catalyst has been produced at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and University of Buenos Aires that will be used in different processes such as ethyl levulinate production, biomass processing and bio-oil esterification.

- Evaluation of the use of Acid-Hydrolysis Residue for production of both bio-oil and bio-char were discussed by partners at Aston University and CPERI, as well as the quality of the products obtained regarding to bio-oil upgrading with acid-catalysts and soil amendment, respectively.

In consideration of new promising results and drawbacks during the last year, partners remarked on the importance of the partnership and feedback between the different parts of the general process that is being considered in DIBANET in order to address towards an efficient and commercial process evaluated be means of LCA analysis and economic studies.


26 Jun 2011

Funding for Catalytic Conversion of Levulinic Acid to Fuels

Dmitri Bulushev and Julian R.H. Ross have got funding (about 90,000 euros) from Science Foundation of Ireland for 2 years Research Frontiers Programme project. The title of the project is “The catalytic conversion of levulinic acid derived from biomass to fuel additives”. The project will start on 1st September 2011.


08 Jun 2011

Karla Presents Pretreatment Research Poster at the 7th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries

The seventh edition of the International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries was hold in Bruges, Belgium, on 8 – 10 June 2011. PhD student from the DIBANET project, Karla Dussan, presented partial results on the oxidative pretreatment for biomass for the fractionation of cellulosic materials during the poster session. The results presented at the event can be downloaded here.


12 May 2011

DIBANET Catalyst Workshop Takes Place at Carbolea

Members of the DIBANET research project team from Europe and Latin America recently came together for a two day research workshop hosted by Carbolea. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss progress in the development of the DIBANET process, with a heavy emphasis on the role of catalysis in the production of diesel miscible biofuels from European and Latin American feedstocks.

Acid hydrolysis of biomass feedstocks for the production of levulinic acid is being carried out in the DIBANET reactor system at the University of Limerick. Promising results from the development of a pre-treatment to reduce the recalcitrance of biomass, resulting in an improvement in the hydrolysis yields were discussed. A pre-treatment system utilising catalysts developed by partner UBA was also examined.

Latin American partner UFRJ are undertaking catalytic esterification reactions of levulinc acid and ethanol to produce ethyl levulinate and upgrading of bio-oil using catalysts developed in-house and by UBA.

The residual materials from the hyrdrolysis process are being examined by UK partner Aston University for their potential as a feedstock for pyrolysis to produce bio-oil. CERTH from Greece are investigating the role that catalysts can play in improving the yield of bio-oil from the pyrolysis of the acid hydrolysis residues.


30 Apr 2011

Eight Postgraduate Positions Available at Carbolea (Now FIlled)

We are happy to announce that seven PhD positions and one MSc positions are available at Carbolea. These are listed below:

PhD Projects:

The Combustion of Biofuels under Combustor Relevant Conditions (2 PhDs Available)

Click Here for More Details

Use of functionalised mesoporous silicas for pyrolysis oil upgrading (One PhD Available)

Click Here for More Details

Catalytic conversion of biomethane to methanol and higher alcohols (2 PhDs Available)

Click Here for More Details

Tar mitigation in biosyngas production (One PhD Available)

Click Here for More Details

The hydrogenation of furfural to furfuryl alcohol (One PhD Available)

Click Here for More Details

MSc Project:

The project will deal with catalytic conversion of some biomass derived intermediates to fuel additives. The student will work and be fully financially supported for 2 years by Science Foundation Ireland. For more details on this project contact Dmitri Bulushev.


12 Apr 2011

Paper Published on Hydrogenation by Biomass Derived Formic Acid

Dmitri Bulushev and Julian R.H. Ross have published a paper entitled "Vapour phase hydrogenation of olefins by formic acid over a Pd/C catalyst". This paper can be obtained from ScienceDirect or downloaded directly from Carbolea.

Abstract: It has been found that ethylene and propylene could be effectively hydrogenated by formic acid vapour over a Pd/carbon catalyst at low temperatures (<440 K). Surface hydrogen formation from formic acid is the rate-determining step for this hydrogenation reaction. Interaction of this hydrogen with the olefins is then fast. The conversion of formic acid in the presence of either of the olefins at any temperature is higher than in their absence. This has been explained by amuch lower surface hydrogen concentration in the presence of the olefins. Direct experiments have confirmed that hydrogen inhibits the formic acid decomposition. Water vapour addition has a small positive effect on the decomposition of formic acid as well as on the hydrogenation of the olefins with formic acid. Catalysts consisting of gold supported on carbon or titania are both active in the production of hydrogen from formic acid. However, in contrast to the Pd/C catalyst, neither gives hydrogenation of the olefins with this acid.

Bulushev,D.A., Ross,J.R.H. Vapour phase hydrogenation of olefins by formic acid over a Pd/C catalyst. Catalysis Today, 2011, v. 163, p. 42-46


13 Dec 2010

DIBANET Summer School Takes Place

The DIBANET Summer School, aimed at providing in-depth information on technologies for the sustainable production of second generation diesel fuels, took place recently at the Federal University of Rio de Janeirofrom December 13th to 16th 2010. The School was designed for postgraduate students (Masters and PhD) in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, typically in their first or second years of research, who wanted to engage in the examination of technologies for the sustainable production of second generation diesel fuels, chemicals and biochars from the wastes, residues and non-food crops of Latin America and Europe. 

The Summer School took place over four days. Day one overlapped with the DIBANET Networking Day and gave students a valuable opportunity to engage with leading players in the scientific and industrial communities. The remainder of the summer school examined hydrolysis and thermal processing of biomass for second generation biofuel production. This included a series of lectures on carbohydrates chemistry, biomass characterization, hydrolysis, and products analysis as well as on pyrolysis, characterisation of pyrolysis products, catalytic pyrolysis and catalytic upgrading of products. The course offered a unique opportunity for interaction with fellow students and leading international scientific and industrial experts from Europe and Latin America. It was not "all work and no play" either, as there was also plenty of social interaction. 

Carbolea members Daniel Hayes, Michael Hayes, and Buana Girisuta all gave presentations at the Summer school. All of the presentations made can be access via the e-learning tool of the DIBANET website.


13 Dec 2010

DIBANET Networking Day Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The DIBANET research consortium presented "Diesel fuels from wastes, residues and non-food crops of Latin America & Europe" at the DIBANET Networking Day that was held on December 13th 2010 at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Networking day brought together key players in scientific communities and industry to discuss how Europe and Latin America can work together to produce diesel fuels sustainably and cheaply.

Presentations were made and discussions took place on new methods for the sustainable production of diesel fuels from wastes and residues. Speakers included DIBANET partners from Europe and Latin America. 

Topics covered included:

- Latin American and European feedstocks for diesel fuel production

- Technologies for sustainable diesel fuel production and their products

- Catalysis in diesel fuel production.

- Newly developed analytical techniques for online feedstock characterisation

An overview of the programme is available on the DIBANET website where the presentations from project partners can be downloaded.

The presentations given by Carbolea members can be downloaded below:

"Introduction to the Biorefinery Concept" - Daniel Hayes

"Introduction to the DIBANET Concept" - Michael Hayes

"European Feedstocks" - Daniel Hayes

Chet Culver, Governor of Iowa and representative of the Governors Biofuel Coalition in the United States, presented at the DIBANET Networking Day, where he outlined Iowa’s activities in the renewable energy sector. Petrobras, the fourth largest energy company in the world, also attended and were keen to learn about technologies being developed by DIBANET. 

The Networking day was combined with a Poster session to present the current DIBANET achievements. You can find photos from the event and from the poster session on the DIBANET website.


11 Dec 2010

DIBANET Project Meeting at Rio de Janeiro

Today a project review meeting for the DIBANET project was held at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This allowed for discussion to take place regarding the significant progress achieved in the project and our future plans.


18 Nov 2010

Daniel Hayes Presents at Dionex Meeting and Globe Forum

Carbolea member Daniel Hayes today gave 2 presentations in Dublin. The first was presented to attendees of a meeting arranged by Dionex, the subject matter concerned the chromatography method that he has prepared at Carbolea, allowing for lignocellulosic samples to be analysed rapidly with minimal preparation steps. That presentation can be downloaded here. The second presentation was made at the Globe Forum and covered many of the Carbolea research areas. That presentation can be downloaded here.


02 Jul 2010

DIBANET Press Release Following Buenos Aires Meeting

Today a press release was issued regarding the recent DIBANET meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It covers the advances made to date in the project. The press release can be accessed here.


28 Jun 2010

Dr Buana Girisuta Joins the Research Group

Today Dr Buana Girisuta. He is a in a post-doc position and will be involved in the DIBANET project. He will be developing methods to analyse the products of the reactor system that is being developed in DIBANET.


27 Jun 2010

Presentations by Carbolea Members at IHSS Symposium in Teneriffe

Carbolea members present their research at the 15th Meeting of the International Humic Substances SocietyHumic Substances and the Maintenance of Ecosystem Services”, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain 27th June – 2nd July 2010.

Michael H.B. Hayes has been invited to give a keynote lecture on ‘Evolution of Modern Concepts of the Compositions of Humic Substances’. The presentation will look at how research using advanced analytical techniques has shaped our knowledge about the compositions of humic substances.

Michael will also present a paper co-authored by Corinna M.P. Byrne and colleagues Prof. Roger S. Swift and Dr. Andre J. Simpson. This paper “Humin: The Simplest of the Humic Substances?” will describe in details how the structure of humin, the most recalcitrant fraction of soil organic matter, has been unravelled. The paper can be downloaded here.

A poster on “Changes in dissolved organic matter losses from soils under different management” authored by Corinna M.P. Byrne, Michael H.B. Hayes and Dr. Andre J Simpson will be presented which summaries the research finding recently published by Byrne et al., 2010 in Water Research. This poster can be downloaded here and the paper here.

Oceans are the largest global carbon pool and are estimated to hold approximately 38,000 PgC (petagrams of carbon). The oceanic sediments contain 150 Pg of organic matter (OM). Rosaleen Mylotte will present her work on the Study of Estuarine Sediments in Galway Bay, Ireland both orally and by poster. This work, co-authored by Prof. Michael HB Hayes and Dr. Catherine Dalton (Mary Immaculate College, Limeick, Ireland), examines core samples from the transitional waters in Galway Bay. A main focus of the study is the effect that the estuary is having on the bay especially, with regards to the organic matter (OM) present. OM is washed into the Bay from the River Corrib and its tributary streams. OM is a reservoir of carbon (in sediments) and an important sink. Studying the organic and inorganic colloidal components contained within the estuarine sediments can give indications of changes that have occurred over time to the composition of the matter transported to the estuary and will provide an insight into the composition of carbon sequestered in the sediments. The project is studying in detail the compositions of the HS at different depths and their associations with the sediments. The poster can be downloaded here.

Research data from Carbolea’s work on Biochar will also be presented in Tenerife. A paper entitled “Properties of Biochar Produced from Miscanthus x giganteus and its Influence the Growth of Maize (Zea mays L.)” authored by Dr. Witold Kwapinski, P. Wolfram, Corinna M.P. Byrne, Fergus Melligan, Dr. Etelvino H. Novotny, Dr. J.J. Leahy, Prof. Michael H.B. Hayes, will be presented which summaries the research finding recently published by Kwapinski et al., 2010 in Waste and Biomass Valorization. The IHSS paper abstract can be downloaded here.

Work on the “Extraction of High-Value Lipids from Irish Peats” will be presented as a poster by Raymond McInerney, co-authored by Daniel J. Hayes, Dr. J.J. Leahy and Prof. Michael HB. Hayes.

 


18 May 2010

DIBANET Meeting in Buenos Aires

DIBANET held its first project review meeting in Buenos Aires on May 18-19. This meeting included the presentation of results to date and discussion of future strategies for the project by DIBANETs project partners. The progress to date, is summarised below:

  • A reactor system for the production of levulinic acid (an important cellulosic fuel
    precursor) from biomass is now operational at Carbolea.

  • Aston University (UK) and CERTH (Greece) have analysed and pyrolysed the
    residues from this system and are working towards the production of diesel miscible biofuels from these, so eliminating waste from the process and maximising potential revenue.

  • University Federal Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and the University of Buenos Aires
    (Argentina) have made exciting new developments regarding catalysts for both the upgrading of bio-oils from pyrolysis and the conversion of carbohydrates and levulinic acid.

  • It was agreed that the project should focus on the processing of sugarcane bagasse (from Latin America) and Miscanthus (from Europe) in the hydrolysis reactor. The end target is the design of a commercial system for a Brazilian sugarmill.

  • Project partners demonstrated that Near Infrared Spectroscopy is a highly effective technology for rapid feedstock analysis and evaluation, subsequent work will focus on the potential for applying such a system at future biorefineries and sugar mills - “Such a system will allow suppliers of feedstock to be paid based on the biofuel potential of their material” said Daniel Hayes.

These developments have allowed advances to be made at many key points of this DIBANET process chain. Project Co-ordinator Prof. Michael H.B. Hayes said “The exciting results presented at this meeting show the great advances that can occur when leading research groups from Europe and Latin America work together for the greater good of both regions. This is only the first such meeting for DIBANET and we envisage even greater advances in the coming years. Our focus on the production of diesel miscible biofuels from waste materials through abiotic processes offers us a great competitive advantage in the crowded biofuels sector and the concerted effort of all partners is towards the development of a commercial system. Following this meeting I am more confident than ever about us achieving that goal”.


The importance of this research to the industry was underlined by the hosting of this event at the headquarters of YPF, a large Argentinian oil company. YPF will analyse and evaluate the range of biofuels produced from the DIBANET technologies.


13 May 2010

Michael Hayes Visits Laboratories of DIBANET Partner UFRJ

Prof. Michael Hayes today visited visited the laboratories of Professor Victor  Texeira at UFRJ (University Federal Rio de Janeiro). UFRJ is a member of the DIBANET project which Carbolea is co-ordinating. Professor Texeira has an excellent reputation for his work on catalysis. He has a  highly comprehensive set of pyrolysis and analytical equipment, and he leads a dedicated group of scientists.


19 Mar 2010

Carbolea Members Join COST Actions

COST is an intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology, allowing the coordination of nationally-funded research on a European level. COST contributes to reducing the fragmentation in European research investments and opening the European Research Area to cooperation worldwide.

Prof. Michael H.B. Hayes has been nominated as a delegate to COST Action CM0903: Utilisation of Biomass for Sustainable Fuels & Chemicals (UBIOCHEM). The main objective of the Action is to generate a synergistic approach for utilisation of biomass for sustainable fuels & chemicals through cooperation between scientists from different member states and different areas and disciplines.
Special emphasis will be placed on the utilisation of lignocellulose biomass, algae and non-edible crops, which does not compete with food. It will involve the use of green catalytic methodologies (homogeneous, heterogeneous, enzymatic and photocatalysis) and novel reaction media.

Daniel Hayes is the Irish National member of COST Action FP0901: Analytical Techniques for Biorefineries. The main objective of this Action is to develop new and evaluate existing sufficient analytical methods related to forest-based and agroindustrial Biorefineries that eventually will be applied within novel and existing sustainable Biorefining processes and for products, as well as in state-of-the-art academic research and innovations.


26 Feb 2010

Launch of BIOMOB Project

Today marked the launch of the BIOMOB programme dealing with Regional biomass resources.`The programme is coordinated by Shannon Development, Ireland, and there are partners from Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Scotland, and Sweden. Raymond McInerney and Michael Hayes from the Carbolea Group are involved in the project. Raymond’s job is to collate all the biomass resources in the Shannon Region, the industries that utilise biomass, and the Institutions involved in Biomass research. He collects and collates similar information from the other members of the consortium. This is a feasibility study. It is hoped that it will lead to an extended programme that will enable the establishment of sustainable agriculture based industries in the different regions.


18 Feb 2010

Carbolea Presence at National Bioenergy Conference 2010

Michael Hayes, JJ Leahy and Raymond McInerney attended "The National Bioenergy Conference 2010 ‘Developing and Financing Bioenergy". This event was organised by Teagasc and the Irish Bioenergy Association and took place at The Tipperary Institute in Thurles. Carbolea has numerous active projects in the area of bioenergy.


16 Feb 2010

Members Attend "Energy Crops Technical information Day"

Daniel Hayes and Mark Ashworth attended the "Energy Crops Technical Information Day" event organised by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (DAFF). This event also included a demonstration of several energy crop harvesters in action at the Oak Park Tegaasc Research Centre in Carlow. There is a particular interest in Miscanthus and short rotation coppices in Ireland as energy crops and Carbolea has ongoing projects in which these energy crops, Miscanthus in particular, are being utilised. One of these projects is funded by DAFF.


16 Feb 2010

DIBANET Reactor Arrives at Carbolea

Today marked the arrival of the first stage of the DIBANET hydrolysis reactor at Carbolea. This will be used to understand the kinetics and reaction mechanisms involved in the conversion of various lignocellulosic feedstocks to a range of platform chemicals - with a particular focus on levulinic acid, furfural and formic acid. Of particular interest is the influence of operating conditions such as the Acid Concentration and Temperature on the conversion of cellulosic feedstock’s to Levulinic acid (LA) and Humic substances (HU) and the conditions that favour the formation of the former as opposed to the latter.


16 Feb 2010

Letter Published in Irish Times

A letter written by Carbolea's Prof. Michael Hayes was today published in the Irish Times national newspaper. It concered the plans for the construction, in Poolbeg, Dublin, of a large incinerator to treat the muncipal wastes from the Dublin region that are currently sent to landfill. It argued that the incineration technology has been superceded by biorefining processes that can offer higher value products from their processing of waste materials. The full letter can be read on the Irish Times website or through this link on the Carbolea site.


14 Jan 2010

Carbolea Presentation at Limavady to EU Consortium

Prof. Michael H. B. Hayes presented at Limavady, Co. Derry, Ireland, to an FP7 Workshop for persons involved in biomass related research in the Coastal Regions of N Europe. The presentation outlined the objectives of DIBANET, with especial emphasis on the relevant biorefining operations. There is a significant involvement in the growing of Coppice Willow in Co. Derry. The product is made into chips for burning. The lecture outlined the additional value that can be obtained from biorefining because, in addition to the platform chemicals that are recoverable, pyrolysis of the residual materials will provide syngas, bio-oil (which can be upgraded to diesel additive quality) and biochar, an excellent plant growth enhancer.


05 Oct 2009

Project Update: Analysis of Peat as a Feedstock for Biorefineries

The webpage detailing our work, on the analysis of peats and evaluation as to their suitability for processing in varioud biorefining technologies, has been updated today. Daniel Hayes and Raymond McInerney are the people with most involvement in this project, the updated material can be found here.


02 Oct 2009

Project Update: Analysis and Evaluation of Irish Agricultural Products for Biroefining

Today the webpage detailing the research project funded by the Department of Agriculture's Research Stimulus fund has been updated. The update includes a list of all of the samples that have beem collected, processed and analysed to date as well as particular observations concerning Miscanthus x giganteus, which is a particularly attractive energy crop for Ireland. Daniel Hayes is the person with most involvement in this area. More details can be found on the appropriate webpage.


01 Oct 2009

Donncha Haverty Joins Carbolea Team

We are pleased to announce that today Donncha Harverty started work at Carbolea. He is employed in our FP7 project DIBANET. He will be responsible for the design, construction and operation of a lab-scale hydrolysis system that will take, as feedstocks, numerous residues and wastes from Europe and Latin America. The target will be high yields of valuable platform chemicals from which a suite of biofuels and industrial chemicals can be synthesised. Donncha has extensive experience in reactor design and construction and will be a valuable member in the team.


25 Sep 2009

Carbolea Booth at IRCSET 2009 Symposium

Carbolea today occupied one of the four display booths at the IRCSET 2009 Symposium "Innovation Fuelling the Smart Society". The booth displayed a slide show and posters representing many of Carbolea's current projects. These posters included:

"Biomass Pyrolysis and Gasification and Their Applications" by Witold Kwapinski

"DIBANET - Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network" by Corinna Byrne

"Analysis of Biomass Feedstocks and Evaluation of Suitability for Biorefining and Pyrolysis Schemes" by Daniel Hayes

"Pyrolysis of Biomass to produce Bio-Oil" by Fergus Melligan

"Enhancements of Soil Fertility from Biochar Amendments" by Katerina Kryachko

Much of Daniel Hayes's PhD work was funded by IRCSET.


23 Sep 2009

Resarch Areas Update: Biorefining and Second Generation Biofuels

The webpage detailing the background to biorefining and second generation biofuels has been updated. There is now more detail on the various types of technologies and diagrams detailing these. Please refer to the appropriate webpage for more information.


23 Sep 2009

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne Attend Environment Ireland 2009

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne attended the 5th Annual Enviornment Ireland Conference (2009), at Croke Park, Dublin. There were several topics of interest at this conference, particularly the presentations relating to future strategies to deal with wastes. Carbolea research projects consider waste feedstocks as a priority and we are continually looking at advanced processes for getting maximal value from this resource while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.


08 Aug 2009

Current Projects Update: DIBANET

Today a new webpage has been launched on Carbolea. This details the large project DIBANET which is being co-ordinated here at the University of Limerick. It is funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme and is a response to the Energy 2008 Call - "Significant enhancement of the cooperation between key researchers and industries from the EU and Latin America in the field of biofuels". DIBANET stands for the "Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches NETwork" and the title of the Project is "The Production of Sustainable Diesel Miscible Biofuels from the Residues and Wastes of Europe and Latin America". There are 13 partners in the group, 6 from the EU and 7 from Latin America. There are more details and web links for most of these partners on the Links page. The total budget for the project is €3.7m with €1.4m going to the Carbolea Research Group. Please consult the appropriate webpage for more information.


06 Jul 2009

FUNLEVEL Proposal Passes Stage 2 FP7 Evaluation Threshold

The Evaluation Summary Report for FUNLEVEL, a proposal for a project to be co-ordinated by Carbolea and submitted under the FP7-2009-BIOREFINERY Call "Sustainable Biorefineries", was received today. The proposal is one of only 5 proposals (from a total of over 60) to make the threshold score for eligbility for funding. The following months will determine whether this will equate to the start of negotiation phase for the project and its ultimate funding. The full title for FUNLEVEL is "Catalytic Conversion of Biomass into FUraN and LEVulinic Acid Derivatives for Applications in Biofuels and Biopolymers", it is a 48 month project, with 14 partners and a total budget of €12.2m with €2.4m allocated for Carbolea. An abstract of the proposal is available on this site.


01 Jul 2009

Daniel Hayes Presents at CONEIAP XIX

In a sign of Carbolea's increasingly strong links with Latin America in the field of biomass and biofuels research, Daniel Hayes presented to the CONEIAP XIX 2009 Conference in Cali, Colombia. The presentation was entitled "The New Generation of Biofuels: How Europe and Latin America Can Work Together" and can be downloaded from this website.


24 Jun 2009

Michael Hayes Presents Keynote Address at University of Aachen

Michael Hayes today presented a keynote address to the international symposium entitled "Tailor Made Fuels from Biomass" at the University of Aachen, Germany. The presentation can be downloaded from this website.


11 Jun 2009

Michael Hayes Delivers Keynote Speech at Feasta Conference

Today Michael Hayes gave a keynote speech entitled "Second Generation Biorefining for Sustainable Indigenous Industries for Ireland" at the Feasta "New Emergency Conference". In this presentation, biorefining processes are outlined, with discussion of acid versus enzymatic hydrolysis for lignocellulose biorefinery feedstocks. The products of high temperature/high pressure biorefining processes yielding furfural, levulinic acid, formic acid, and biorefinery residuals are illustrated, and the extents to which the chemical products can provide platform chemicals and fuel additives are discussed. Emphasis is given to pyrolysis products (gases, bio-oil and biochar) of the residuals, and of the potential to upgrade the bio-oil to fuel additive products, and to the uses of the biochar in soil amendment processes. The presentation can be downloaded here and a video of it can be watched here or below.

   

 


05 May 2009

Carbolea Researchers on Morning Ireland Radio Show

In a recorded interview with Eleanor Burnhill of the RTE Morning Ireland Programme Professors Michael Hayes and Julian Ross outlined the ongoing studies on the utilisations of biomass at the Carbolea Group, located in the CES Department of the University of Limerick. They stressed how biorefining operations give platform chemicals, fuels and fuel additives, and biorefinery residuals (BRs), and indicated how pyrolysis of BRs gives bio-oil, which can be upgraded to fuel additive grade, biochar, an excellent soil amender and carbon sequesterer, and fuel gases. Excerpts from the recording have been used in Morning Ireland programmes. At a Biochar meeting at the University of Edinburgh on April 1, Professor Hayes spoke with Jerry Harrison, a Harvard graduate in the Environmental Sciences area, and a former lead musician with the famed Talking Heads. Jerrry has a strong interest in biochar. Hayes informed Miss Burnhill of the Harrison interest. When she interviewed him for Morning Ireland he reiterated his belief in the environmental benefits of Biochar, and indicated that he had interested Bono in the benefits of the product.


09 Dec 2008

New Waste Evaluation Project Starts at Carbolea

December also sees the start of a project funded by the EPA Strive Programme. The project will involve the detailed analysis and characterisation of various wastes (including industrial and municipal wastes) in order to ascertain their potential in various biorefining and/or pyrolysis technologies. Following this analysis these methods of waste treatment will be compared with more conventional processes such as landfill, incineration and anaerobic digestion. The Project will last one year and will involve Daniel Hayes and Patrick Cross.


01 Dec 2008

New Peat Evaluation Project Starts

December sees the start of a new project at Carbolea, funded by Bord na Mona. This inolves the the detailed analysis and characterisation of various peats in order to ascertain their potential in various biorefining and/or pyrolysis technologies. The Project will inolve Daniel Hayes, Ainara Melus and Enrico Perelli.


26 May 2008

Successful Launch of the CPI

The Charles Parsons Initiative, of which Carbolea is a member, was officially lauched today.The launch was addressed by Minister Eamon Ryan (Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources), Professor Son Barry (President of the University of Limerick), and Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool (ex-chairman of Shell and chairman of D1 Oils). There were also world renowned experts in the fields of biomass, wind, biofuels, ocean energy and energy storage. The event was well attended by stakeholders from various fields.

The programme can be downloaded here and many presentations can be downloaded from the CPI website while those relating to the areas of study in Carbolea can be downloaded below:

Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool - "Some Thoughts on Biofuels..."

Daniel Hayes - "Biorefining, Work at Carbolea and the Biofine Process"

Dr. Dmitri Bulushev and Prof. Julian Ross - "Catalysis for Hydrogen and Transport Fuel Production from Biomass"

Dr. JJ Leahy and Dr. Witold Kwapinski - Thermochemical Conversion/Biomass Gasification

Prof. Austin Darragh - "Sir Charles Parsons and the Evolution of an Energy Led Economy"

Katerina Kryachko - "Bio-char and Plant Growth"


13 Apr 2008

Biomass Conversion Conference Attended in Krakow

Katerina Kryachko, Witold Kwapinski, Dmitri Bulushev and Daniel Hayes attended the ERA Chemistry workshop, entitled “Chemistry of raw material change/chemical transformation of biomass” in Krakow, Poland. This was a very useful event which involved presentations and discussions concerning numerous areas of biomass conversion. The following articles that were presented at this conference can be downloaded here:

Daniel Hayes - "An Outline of Work by Carbolea and the Biofine Process"

Dmitri Bulushev - "Some applications of bio-oil and chemicals production"

Katerina Kryachko - "Investigations of methods of recovery products from Biofine Process and their applications"


14 Feb 2008

Members Attend Annual AAAS Meeting

Carbolea members Daniel Hayes, and Michael Hayes attended the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) which took place in Boston, USA. There were numerous talks on the state of play and progress regarding second generation biofuels and advanced biomass technologies. There appears to be an understanding in America that first generation biofuels can only go so far, there is a cap (15 billion gallons) on the amount of ethanol that can come from maize. It is expected that the majority of the biofuel quotas for 2022 and beyond will come from second generation technologies.




 

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