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ChE Departmental Seminar Series: Michael Timko, PhD


Richards Hall Room 263

January 18, 2019 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
January 18, 2019 11:45 am to 1:00 pm

Please join the Department of Chemical Engineering in welcoming Associate Professor Michael Timko from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

Seminar Title: "Bioenergy Approaches to Reduce Fossil Fuel Dependence and Minimize Waste"

Seminar Abstract: Over the past decade, the need for action to mitigate the impacts of global climate change have become increasingly clear. Chemical engineering has played a prominent role in creating this problem; and bears a responsibility to mitigate it. Unfortunately, while many energy technologies exist that have potential to reduce CO2 emissions responsible for climate change, none are cost competitive at scales appropriate for offsetting substantial amounts of fossil fuel usage. Of the existing options, bioenergy has near-term promise to replace 20% or more of current fossil fuel usage. This talk describes my group’s work on developing new methods for butanol production and recovery; cellulose deconstruction; and conversion of food waste into energy. The main focus of the talk will be on food waste conversion, as waste represents an abundant feedstock available at low or even negative costs. In particular, my group has investigated new methods for thermo-catalytic conversion of food waste to produce an energy dense fuel precursor. We have found that solid bases are effective at increasing oil yields, leading to investigation of waste materials – such as byproducts of aluminum production – as active and stable catalysts. Further investigation revealed the importance of the ratio of acid to base sites on the catalyst, a discovery which motivated study of hydroxyapatite as a catalyst with tunable acid/base properties. With this insight, we synthesized a family of hydroxyapatite catalysts, finding that the most effect one catalyzed reactions responsible for recovery 45% of the energy present in the food waste feed as oil. This finding is the basis for on-going work to develop a cost effective process for conversion of food waste to energy. 

Date: January 18th, 2019

Time: 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Location: Richards Hall Room 236