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Energy and Environment

Energy sustainability and climate change present an immediate challenge for development of renewable fuels from biomass. These renewable fuels generate from biomass to convert alcohol, biodiesel and biocoke. Our research is focusing on development of high efficiency and low-cost technologies for synthesis of these renewable fuels.

At IR4TD the research is directed toward:

Biodiesel are vegetable oil and animal fat that are transformed to fuel that can be used in diesel engines. Biodiesel holds the potential to reduce greenhouse gas and provide an alternative to petroleum-based diesel. Currently there are several sources of Biodiesel though they suffer from low yield and are competing with food, land, water, and other resources to produce fuel resulting in increased price for other necessities such as oil.

At IR4TD researchers have developed an innovative catalyzed process to produce biodiesel from waste vegetable oils. The process includes two steps: fast preparation and transesterification, the process reduces the time and cost of the produced Biodiesel resulting in affordable, available, and can be mass produced.

The synthesized biodiesel was analyzed for their combustion characteristics. The results show that the synthesized biodiesel has higher burning rate and a lower propensity to soot formation as compared with petroleum-based diesel because of its oxygen content.

Semi Carbonized Densified Biomass (SCDB) is a form of solidified biomass fuel that can be utilized in extreme furnace conditions.  SCDB production methods create a fuel source in which a substantial portion of the moisture content and volatile components of the raw biomass have been removed, leaving a composition of mostly a densified, carbon fuel source.  The purpose of creating a SCDB is to effectively convert biomass into a high energy content, sustainable fuel with environmentally friendly impact.

SCDB is a result of processing in which raw biomass material is pressure-formed while being heated under substantially sealed-up conditions. The semi-carbonized solid is produced by carbonizing the raw biomass material without releasing combustible gas or liquid. The pre-semi-carbonized or semi-carbonized solid has a maximum compressive strengths between 60-200 MPa and a calorific values between 18-23 MJ/kg. The pre-semi-carbonized or semi-carbonized solid matter has an apparent specific gravity near 1.20-1.38 g/cm3.

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An energy assessment is an evaluation of a manufacturing plant’s energy use to identify the most cost-effective, energy saving-opportunities. IR4TD has conducted energy assessment for several companies, particularly in the aluminum industry. Recycled aluminum needs to be melted in aluminum furnaces for reuse purpose. The aluminum melting is achieved in the melting furnaces using natural gas flames. On-site energy assessment of analysis of energy utilization during aluminum melting have been conducted a number of aluminum furnaces to improve energy efficiency and increasing melting rate.

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