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Developing alternative chemical processes for a sustainable future

The Biocatalysis & Bioenergy (B&B) research group’s mission is to develop new alternative processes and products in chemical engineering.

By combining alternative solvents such as supercritical CO2 and sub-critical water with biocatalysis, a more sustainable approach can be taken regarding conventional chemical engineering processes. The main topics of research of the B&B research group are the valorisation of agro-industrial and fish by-products into valuable consumables with application in pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmetic industries as well as in the energy sector. The B&B research group follows an approach of zero waste and zero emissions using green solvents, sustainable processes, and innovative formulations.

Recently, Dr. Alexandre Paiva from the B&B research group joined forces with Prof. Ana Rita Duarte, leader of the Des.solve research group for the developing and advancement of natural deep eutectic solvent (NADES). Prof. Rita Duarte was awarded a consolidated ERC grant for the study and implementation of NADES. NADES applications go beyond materials or chemical engineering and cover a wide range of fields such as biocatalysis, extraction, electrochemistry, carbon dioxide capture or biomedical applications. The Des.solve research group will be deeply engaged in application development, particularly in extraction, biocatalysis and pharmaceutical/ biomedical applications.

Working together, both research groups have the mission to not only to create scientific knowledge regarding the mechanisms and properties of NADES, but also to have an impact on society, the economy, and industry by developing innovative applications towards a greener society.

Chemical engineering

Chemical engineering in the Des.Solve Project

Sugars, amino acids, or organic acids are typically solid at room temperature. Nonetheless, when combined at a particular molar fraction, they present a high melting point depression, becoming liquids at room temperature. These are called Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents – NADES. NADES are envisaged to play a major role on different chemical engineering processes in the future, specifically towards the development of greener and sustainable processes. Nonetheless, there is a significant lack of knowledge on fundamental and basic research on NADES, which is hindering their industrial applications. It is important to extend the knowledge on these systems, boosting their application development. With project Des.solve, we intend to increase scientific knowledge, focusing on four major research themes.

The knowledge that will be created is expected, not only to have a major impact in the scientific community, but also on society, the economy, and industry.

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AREAS OF EXPERTISE
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Thermodynamics and Biocatalysis
  • Bioactive Compounds
  • Alternative solvents
RESEARCH INTERESTS
  • Deep eutectic solvents (DES) development, characterisation and application development.
  • Biocatalysis in alternative media.
  • Sub-, supercritical fluid technology for the valorisation of agro-industrial by-products.
  • CO2 capture and utilisation.

 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Profile in SciTech Europa Quarterly, issue 29

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