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Thomas Flannelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

marystela

Thomas Flannelly

Department: Chemical and Environmental Sciences
Address: University of Limerick
Qualifications: BSc in Environmental Science
Email: thomas.flannelly@ul.ie
Supervisior: J.J. Leahy
Co-Supervisior: Stephen Dooley

Thomas Flannelly finished top off his class when graduating from the University of Limerick with a first class honours degree (BSc) in 2012

Current Project

"REACTION KINETICS FOR THE ACID CATALYSED HYDROLYSIS OF HEXOSE CARBOHYDRATES TO LIQUID TRANSPORTATION FUELS IN ETHANOL SOLVENT”

The world's energy supply is highly dependent on the use of fossil fuels with the International Energy Agency stating in 2009 that 91.2% of the world's energy supply is reliant on fossil fuels. The current situation in Ireland is even more worrying as the Irish Economy is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels for energy usage, accounting for 96% of all energy used in Ireland for 2008. Within this, the transport sector accounts for more than 30% of the total fossil fuel energy consumption. Ireland's participation in the legally binding Kyoto Protocol coupled with the 2003/30/EC directive, in which there is a legal requirement for biofuels to account for 10% of energy supply by 2020, means that the need to demonstrate viable synthetic platforms for biofuel production is urgent.

One such alternative to liquid petroleum transportation fuels is the synthesis of fuel components from renewable lignocellulose derived carbohydrates that are abundant in Ireland in the form of wastes, crop residues and energy crops. Thomas has successfully identified and synthesised two such promising fuels, which have strong potential to be CO2 neutral, enabling the 2003/30/EC mandates. Ethyl levulinate and 5-ethoxymethylfurfural are both advantaged molecules over fossil derived competitors, and can be synthesised from lignocellulose derived carbohydrates that are abundant in Ireland. Ethyl levulinate can be used as a diesel blend additive at 20 volume% without modifications to existing diesel engines. 5-Ethoxymethylfurfural is yet more advantaged due to its high liquid density, producing a high volumetric energy density, ~25% greater than petroleum derived diesel and gasoline.

However, at present yields achieved of the aforementioned fuel components have been poor, threatening the economic viability of the proposition due to an unsatisfactory understanding of the mechanism and chemical kinetics of the synthetic system. Thomas is resolving the current scientific issues by the provision of reliable mechanistic analysis and developing high fidelity kinetic models to describe the synthesis of these fuel components from Irish biomass. A hierarchical modelling approach that studies one sub-mechanism at a time is employed for each of the components of biomass to cellulose to six-carbon-sugar to fuel component pathways. It is anticipated that the kinetic models developed will contribute to the economical production of liquid transportation fuels from lignocellosic carbohydrates.

 

 

 

 

 
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