How is the pandemic affecting your work?
Although I work using a computer program, I am restricted to using the university computer because it has a license for the software used in my work. In addition, the pandemic affects the direct and daily contact with my supervisor, due to the need for social isolation. Not attending university as before, plus the unstable internet connection, affect the performance of activities, not being able to do as they were carried out before the pandemic. However, using other software and keeping communication by distance help maintain ongoing activities.
The search for the reduction of the environmental impact and possible reductions in the reserves of fossil resources has encouraged the development of sustainable alternatives and technologies. In this sense, lignocellulosic biomass consisting of agro-industrial residues and organic material has been standing out as a source of raw material for obtaining valuable chemical compounds. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a chemical platform compound obtained from this biomass and used to make this connection between biomass and compounds from petroleum.
HMF has wide applicability but problems associated with its synthesis have hindered its greater use so far. In this scenario, the use of a computer program stands out, as it can be used in the simulation and optimization of chemical processes, thus, evaluating the factors and finding parameters that minimize the costs associated with the production of chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass. In my research, I study systems with different configurations in three different Gibbs models using excess Non-Random Two-Liquid (NRTL), UNIQUAC Functional Activity Coefficients (UNIFAC) and Universal Quasi-Chemical (UNIQUAC). The optimization of these systems will be carried out through the minimization of the objective function that relates the estimated cost per mol of HMF fromed. This will be performed using the Complex and Sequential Quadratic Programming (SQP) methods through the computer program Aspen Plus®. From this, the factors that have a greater influence on the HMF costs can be determined and conditions for HMF production can be optimized.
Department(s): Chemical Engineering