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March 28th, 2012:

UMass Amherst chemical engineers boost petrochemical output from biomass by 40 percent

e! Science News

Updated by artificial intelligence Wed, 28 Mar 2012, 9:31:15 EDT    Learn more

UMass Amherst chemical engineers boost petrochemical output from biomass by 40 percent

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 – 16:37 in Physics & Chemistry

Chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, using a catalytic fast pyrolysis process that transforms renewable non-food biomass into petrochemicals, have developed a new catalyst that boosts the yield for five key “building blocks of the chemical industry” by 40 percent compared to previous methods. This sustainable production process, which holds the promise of being competitive and compatible with the current petroleum refinery infrastructure, has been tested and proven in a laboratory reactor, using wood as the feedstock, the research team says. “We think that today we can be economically competitive with crude oil production,” says research team leader George Huber, an associate professor of chemical engineering at UMass Amherst and one of the country’s leading experts on catalytic pyrolysis.

Huber says his research team can take wood, grasses or other renewable biomass and create five of the six petrochemicals that serve as the building blocks for the chemical industry. They are benzene, toluene, and xylene, which are aromatics, and ethylene and propylene, which are olefins. Methanol is the only one of those six key petrochemicals not produced in that same single-step reaction.

“The ultimate significance of our research is that products of our green process can be used to make virtually all the petrochemical materials you can find. In addition, some of them can be blended into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel,” says Huber.

The new process was outlined in a paper published in the Dec. 23, 2011 edition of the German Chemical Society’s journal Angewandte Chemie. It was written by Huber, Wei Fan, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and graduate students Yu-Ting Cheng, Jungho Jae and Jian Shi.

“The whole name of the game is yield,” says Huber. “The question is what amount of aromatics and olefins can be made from a given amount of biomass. Our paper demonstrates that with this new gallium-zeolite catalyst we can increase the yield of those products by 40 percent. This gets us much closer to the goal of catalytic fast pyrolysis being economically viable. And we can do it all in a renewable way.”

The new production process has the potential to reduce or eliminate industry’s reliance on fossil fuels to make industrial chemicals worth an estimated $400 billion annually, Huber says. The team’s catalytic fast pyrolysis technology has been licensed to New York City’s Anellotech, Inc., co-founded by Huber, which is scaling up the process to industrial size for introduction into the petrochemical industry.

In this single-step catalytic fast pyrolysis process, either wood, agricultural wastes, fast growing energy crops or other non-food biomass is fed into a fluidized-bed reactor, where this feedstock pyrolysizes, or decomposes due to heating, to form vapors. These biomass vapors then enter the team’s new gallium-zeolite (Ga-ZSM-5) catalyst, inside the same reactor, which converts vapors into the aromatics and olefins. The economic advantages of the new process are that the reaction chemistry occurs in one single reactor, the process uses an inexpensive catalyst and that aromatics and olefins are produced that can be used easily in the existing petrochemical infrastructure.

Olefins and aromatics are the building blocks for a wide range of materials. Olefins are used in plastics, resins, fibers, elastomers, lubricants, synthetic rubber, gels and other industrial chemicals. Aromatics are used for making dyes, polyurethanes, plastics, synthetic fibers and more.

Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Donald Tsang decision making – NIMBY Not in My intended Futian retirement Backyard Who cares the man made island will cost and extra 10 billion tax payer dollars but keeps the Heung Yee Kuk and Lau Wong Fat happy !

Lantau Development Task Force

Draft Shek Kwu Chau Outline Zoning Plan approved

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Chief Executive in Council has approved the draft Shek Kwu Chau Outline Zoning Plan (OZP).

“The approved OZP provides a statutory land use planning framework to guide development and redevelopment in the Shek Kwu Chau area,” a spokesman for the Town Planning Board said today (March 23).

The planning scheme area covers about 150 hectares, including Shek Kwu Chau island and a proposed artificial island to be formed by reclamation to its southwest.

The general planning intention is to protect the area’s high ecological value, to cater for the requirement for government, institution and community facilities and to facilitate the planned development of integrated waste management facilities on the reclaimed land while protecting the adjoining areas from encroachment by development.

About 15.58 hectares of land are zoned “Government, Institution or Community”. Major existing facilities include hostels, workshops, a hospital, reservoirs, ancillary facilities of a voluntary drug treatment and rehabilitation centre and an anti-drug education centre.

About 15.71 hectares of land will be an artificial island formed by reclamation. Of this, about 13.65 hectares are zoned “Other Specified Use” (“OU”) annotated “Integrated Waste Management Facilities” to designate land for waste treatment facilities, while another 2.06 hectares are zoned “OU” annotated “Breakwater”.

About 89.64 hectares are zoned “Conservation Area” to protect and retain the existing natural landscape, ecological or topographical features for conservation, educational and research purposes.

In addition, about 13.35 hectares are zoned “Coastal Protection Area” to conserve, protect and retain the natural coastlines and the sensitive coastal natural environment with a minimum of built environment.

The approved Shek Kwu Chau OZP No. S/I-SKC/2 is now available for public inspection during office hours at the Secretariat of the Town Planning Board, the Planning Enquiry Counters of the Planning Department in North Point and Sha Tin, the Sai Kung and Islands District Planning Office and the Islands District Office.

Copies of the approved OZP are available for sale at the Map Publications Centres in North Point and Yau Ma Tei.

The electronic version of the plan can be viewed on the Town Planning Board’s website (

Source: HKSAR Government