Biomass is the only renewable source of organic carbon. Many efforts have been made in recent year to develop economically viable processes for converting biomass into novel products like fuels, chemicals, and materials. Examples of products include ethanol and alkanes as biofuels, bulk chemicals like ethylene glycol and phenol, and composite materials containing biomass-derived fibers. However, the complexity of the feedstock and required process conditions have presented significant challenges for many applications. Understanding and addressing these challenges will be critical for the success of commercial biorefineries. The objective of this class is to introduce technologies for biomass conversion to novel products and to enable students to assess the potential and technological hurdles
of various approaches. Concepts of reaction engineering, separations, process design and economic analysis are reviewed and applied in case studies. Course content: Existing technology in integrated refineries and pulp mills; Depolymerization of biomass to molecular intermediates; Chemical and biochemical processes for producing fuels and chemicals; Separation processes of biomass streams; Novel biomass-based materials; Assessment of economic viability of emerging processes. Course format: Lectures by Prof. Sievers and guest lecturers; Grades will be based on a midterm exam and a project.
Prerequisites for undergraduates: CHBE 3210 and CHBE 3225, and CHBE 4300 with concurrency