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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Biomass for high-value chemicals

ScienceDaily (2010-09-02) -- Chemist Walter Trahanovsky was trying to produce sugar derivatives from biomass using high-temperature chemistry. He was surprised when his research also produced significant yields of high-value chemicals.

The biomass conversion process is based on the chemistry of supercritical fluids, fluids that are heated under pressure until their liquid and gas phases merge. In this case, Trahanovsky said the key results are significant yields of ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and other chemicals with low molecular weights. He said the process also produces alkyl glucosides and levoglucosan that can be converted into glucose for ethanol production or other uses.

Uses for ethylene glycol include auto antifreeze, polyester fabrics and plastic bottles. Propylene glycol has many uses, including as a food additive, a solvent in pharmaceuticals, a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a coolant in liquid cooling systems.

The starting materials are cheap and the products are reasonably high-value chemicals.

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