Sustainable catalysis for production of biorenewable chemicals

10-Mar-2022

A key objective for the group has been to develop affordable, less hazardous catalysts to achieve similar performance to those currently available, keeping synthesis simple and easy to scale up

Asynt has highlighted how the Process Intensification Group within the School of Engineering at Newcastle University, UK is using the company's MultiCell-PLUS High-Pressure Reactor as part of ongoing research to create an environmentally friendly generation of catalysts for the production of biorenewable chemicals.

A key objective for the group has been to develop affordable, less hazardous catalysts to achieve similar performance to those currently available, keeping synthesis simple and easy to scale up.

Dr Fernando Russo Abegão, a Lecturer from the Process Intensification Group, said “In order to develop our new generation of catalysts we needed to be able to screen a high number of samples, often at high pressure and temperature… To be effective we required an instrumental set-up that could provide a fast turnaround, allowing us to quickly test, rationalise, and identify optimal catalyst formulations”.

Dr Kamelia Boodhoo, a Reader in Sustainable Process Technology, said: “We chose the MultiCell-PLUS system from Asynt as it incorporated parallel agitated reactors with automatic temperature and pressure control. Using this versatile, high-performance system we have already successfully developed a new generation of ‘greener’ catalysts for dehydration of C5 and C6 sugars into furans. Looking to the future, our plan is also to use the MultiCell-PLUS for screening of solvents and process conditions”.

The Multicell-PLUS was developed by Asynt to provide scientists with a flexible and customisable device for high throughput screening of chemical reactions under high pressure. The reactor allows users to set up a multitude of experimental conditions in each of its 8 reaction cells, ideal for optimisation and screening investigations. Manufactured from 316 stainless steel, the Multicell-PLUS standard unit operates up to 50 bar and up to 200 ºC.

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For more demanding and corrosive chemistries, there are options for alternative alloys and for increased operational conditions up to 200 barg and 300 ºC. Motor-driven magnetically coupled overhead stirring is also offered as an option for reactions involving particulate suspensions or viscous reaction mixtures. With its own safety-locking mechanism and adjustable support lifting platform, the Multicell-PLUS high-pressure reactor sets a new benchmark for operator safety, all-round accessibility, and ease-of-use.

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