Center of Renewable Resources CoRR
Faculty of Bioscience Engineering - Ghent University
The Laboratory of Chemical Technology  
The Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT) is a unit within the Department of Chemical Engineering (IR12), Faculty of Engineering, of Ghent University. Chemical reaction engineering and heterogeneous catalysis in general and, in particular, the kinetics of chemical reactions are major axes of the research in this Laboratory.
The research is focused on the design of new and the optimization of existing industrial processes in the field of transport fuels, energy carriers and functional materials. New feedstocks, e.g. renewables, new processes, e.g. controlled radical polymerization, and new functional materials, e.g. nanostructured polymers are aimed at. The catalytic and/or reactor aspects are essential in most of the projects. Kinetic studies are not limited to the determination of empirical correlations between the reaction rate and the reaction conditions but based on the fundamental knowledge of the elementary steps. Kinetic parameters are obtained from a limited number of well-designed experiments. Ab initio calculations are also used to obtain information on kinetic parameters. The interaction between transport and reaction phenomena is studied both on the scale of the catalyst pellet and on the reactor scale. For the design and the simulation of industrial reactors, the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) approach is applied. The kinetic modeling of reactions in mixtures containing several hundreds of molecules belongs to the specific expertise of the laboratory. This know-how is applied on transesterification of triglycerides with solid catalysts, the use of biomass derived alcohols (methanol to olefins), transformation of vegetable oils to fine chemicals, and biomass to olefins (production of ethylene and propylene).

A cold flow riser set-up with a 3D Laser-Doppler anemometer is available. A unique gas fired pilot plant for steam cracking and pyrolysis, equipped with a GC×GC Tof-MS, can handle both fossil and renewable feedstocks. More than 20 bench scale units for kinetic investigations and a TAP (Temporal Analysis of Products) set-up are operational. A set-up for high-throughput kinetic studies will be operational by the end of 2008. The complete spectrum of catalyst characterization techniques belongs to the infrastructure of the Laboratory or is available on campus.

A network of three Linux high-performance computing clusters, totaling more than 100 processors, is in use, next to several individual high-performance workstations. The computer infrastructure is applied for quantum chemical calculations, the estimation of chemical and/or transport parameters based on experimental data, and for the simulation, design and optimization of industrial units by means of computational fluid dynamics.

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