Phillip Savage and Robert Rioux

Catalytic Materials for Removal of Metals from Biomolecules in Algae

Rather than being hunter-gatherers for energy (e.g., drilling for petroleum) society needs to transition to being cultivators of renewable energy sources if we are to transition to living sustainably. Microalgae are single-cell plants that can be cultivated to grow quickly and provide a raw material that can be chemically converted to a renewable biocrude oil. This biocrude is a potential renewable replacement for petroleum. This biocrude cannot be used as-is because it contains metals that will deactivate catalysts used in petroleum refineries. There is a need to remove these metals from the algae biocrude so that it can then be processed using conventional refining technology.

This project will involve understanding the biomolecular structures in algae and in biocrude that contain metals, testing different catalytic materials for reducing the metal content in algae biocrude, and using the information obtained to advance the production of renewable fuels from algal biomass. The students will do experimental work related to the conversion of algal biomass to biocrude, the catalytic removal of metals from biocrude, and the preparation and characterization of catalytic materials.

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Contact Information

Manish Kumar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator

Esther Gomez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
REU Program Coordinator

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