(132c) The Biorefinery Separations Challenge - New Materials and Processes | AIChE

(132c) The Biorefinery Separations Challenge - New Materials and Processes


Nair, S. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Lignocellulosic biomass conversion is a key route for sustainable chemical production. As in the petrochemical industry, the overall process economics will be strongly influenced by the cost and efficiency of molecular separation processes in addition to the catalytic or enzymatic conversion processes. However, the development of systematic approaches for biorefining separations is in a state of infancy. Biorefinery streams contain complex molecules and highly multicomponent mixtures. Adsorptive and membrane separations based upon advanced materials are expected to be integral to successful biorefining, but a new generation of materials and processes is required to meet this ‘high-resolution separation’ challenge. This talk will highlight the above issues in three ways. First, a systematic analysis of biomass conversion routes reveals a number of opportunities for high-resolution separation materials and processes. In this context, we consider the current status, potential, and barriers faced by the main classes of nanoporous materials. Finally we will overview two ongoing areas of biorefinery separation research at Georgia Tech. The first involves the development of robust membranes to fractionate kraft black liquor for recovery and/or recycle of lignin and valuable organic and inorganic chemicals. The second involves the development and use of robust adsorbents for purification of mixtures containing furanic molecules.