Results 2019 & focus 2020
Each year we evaluate the achievements of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil. We would like to give you a brief overview.
In 2019 we had a total of 38 students that did their internship with the Living Lab. A total of 21 Brazilian students came to The Netherlands whereas 17 students went to Minas Gerais. This also included an internship at UFOP, a new partner of the LLB. The students rated their internship with a 7.9. We are very happy with this score. To increase the possibilities for internships and make it more flexible for professors, we changed the application procedure for students. Hopefully this will result in even more matches for internships next year. Besides students internships, we also organized a biobased battle and a guest lecture for students. To further stimulate cooperation between professors in joint research projects, an overview was made of available subsidy calls for Dutch - Brazilian research projects and for professor exchange. This already resulted in a joint research project between Avans University and UFV on the topic of pyrolysis.
``A few weeks after my arrival here in The Netherlands all establishments were closed due to the Corona crisis, including Avans. In this new situation, my supervisor and I had to adapt our approach to pursuing the objective of our project. Fortunately in this project besides laboratory work, we use the simulation software Aspen Plus and this was our main asset for keeping the project schedule on time even without access to the labs. The Cashing Cashew project aims to obtain the compound Cardanol in a high purity from the oil that is extracted from Cashew Nut Shells through pyrolysis.
During the Corona crisis, I had weekly meetings with Qian Zhou, my supervisor, and another colleague in the project, Mithyzi. In these meetings, we shared the diverse theoretical backgrounds related to the project theme and discussed the simulations that we were working on. For me, I can say that even working from home I had the opportunity to build a theoretical base for my research. I was able to work with simulations to predict various proces scenarios and calculate the thermodynamic properties of the compound Cardanol since they are not available in literature. After almost three intense months of quarantine, we are slowly getting back to our laboratory work, I am now able to confirm if the simulations that I did are right or wrong during the experimental part of the project.``
There are different types of efficient approaches to improve the energy production process. The use of bioenergy, for example, is common in processing sectors that generate waste, from organic matter to agricultural waste. The conversion of biomass into energy is considered a low-carbon renewable technique and a strategic option for the production of “clean” energy. Different resources can be applied in the transformation of biomass into energy.This project aims to evaluate and simulate the thermochemical effect of different types of lignocellulosic biomass, especially sorghum. Using biomass as fuel, a simulation of an electricity generation system is being carried out, with the aid of the computer program Aspen Plus, where the fundamental principles of modeling include the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics and equations of fluid mechanics.
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.
Despite all the problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic, scientific research cannot stop. At PUC Minas, Prof. Bárbara Ricci and Prof. Laura Hamdan (Department of Chemical Engineering) and Prof. Raquel Sampaio (Department of Civil Engineering), involved in the Living Lab Biobased Brazil Program, reported that the work routine was changed, including now meetings with students through videoconferences. However, the research groups are making use of this moment to submit articles with the data generated in the laboratory before the implementation of social distancing.
The researchers are focused on the treatment of effluents and the generation of reusable water, among others. In particular, there is a highlight for the submission of two recent articles on the remediation of norfloxacin in water streams and modeling of distillation membranes coupled with forward osmosis for reuse of effluents. On the left there is the schematic representation that refers to the membrane distillation cell / forward osmosis mentioned in the last article.
The team at the Fuel Testing Laboratory (LEC) from UFMG, Brazil, has been working hard on R&D projects to develop innovative processes and catalysts for HVO and Biojet production using different vegetable oils, cashew nut shell oil and others. They also have studied the synthesis of biocrude via liquefaction of sugarcane bagasse and macauba biomass. As well as developing new resins from renewable sources using lignin or residues from the macauba palm.
During the pandemic, everyone is busy participating in meetings and online training, preparing projects for companies, reading articles, and submitting new ones for publication. Part of the team is working to finish the dissertations and doctoral theses. A few employees returned with reduced working hours, maintaining the distance and sanitary measures to meet the demands of partner companies that develop essential services. LEC might slow down but never stop.
In a day and a half, our teacher from Environmental studies from Avans, Thais Varella, has visited four Universities (UFMG, PUC Minas, UFV and UFOP) in Minas Gerais in December. Worthwhile to mention is that all Universities are satisfied with the program and would like to receive students in the future. Here you can read about her visit.
Last month we had the pleasure of bringing LLB together at UFMG's Fuel Testing Laboratory (LEC). The LEC was created in 2000 to conduct research on biofuels, lubricants and meet the demand of the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) to monitor the quality of fuels sold in Minas Gerais . In the laboratory, researchers such as Professor Vânya Marcia Duarte Pasa are leading research in the area of biodiesel and biokerosene. She supervises the work of Rosine Maria - LLB alumni and currently a UFMG master's student - in her research on the stability and pollution of biodiesel. In the meeting, Vânya highlighted the importance of maintaining national and international partnerships, so that science contributes to the development of the country.
In the week of October 21st, 2019, the Biobased Battle took place. Students from UFV and Avans worked together with a common goal: to generate a feasable idea (financially, technically, socially) to reuse tailings and residues from mining.
The tailings were very much in the spotlight earlier last year, when a dam of tailings was ruptured in Minas Gerais, causing deaths and a big environmental impact. After learning a bit more about the process of iron mining and the characteristics of the residues, the students worked in groups via video conference, to come up with sustainable and innovative ideas to tackle this problem.The group with the best idea was elected winner of the competition by a group of professors and professionals from the Brazilian side.
Two , exchange students from Brazil, share their experience about living in the Netherlands: “It can be really challenging to be part of an exchange program, especially being so far away from your family and if you don’t speak the country’s language, and that is why we didn’t know what was expected from us when we arrived in the Netherlands.
At first, when we got here, the first difference we noticed was the weather, very cold and a lot of rain, so different from Brazil and very disappointing, to be honest. But on the other side, we were amazed by the high quality of public transportation and easy access, with people’s green vibe, always riding bicycles and worried about the environment (even the companies). We can say that this way of thinking is contagious because, after our time here, we started to concern about these things as well.
The Brazilian chemical engineering students, Caio and Larissa, are now interns at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy for the WOW! project. Their research aims to optimize the production of biodegradable plastic (PHA) from secondary sludge. Caio en Larissa will continue the research of former Brazilian interns Tielly en Thalles.
PHA is a bioplastic that can be produced by PHA accumulating bacteria. Streams that contain volatile fatty acids (VFAs) or carbohydrates (like primary sludge from sewage treatment plants, or high concentrated industrial effluents) can be used as feed for a mixed culture of bacteria (aerobic sludge from a sewage treatment plant).
On the 27th and 28th of June, the Brazilian professor André Pereira Rosa, from Universidade Federal de Viçosa, paid a visit to HAS Hogeschool, in Den Bosch, and Avans Hogeschool, in Breda.
Because of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil Guilherme was able to do his internship in the Netherlands at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy. Now he ended up working as a professional researcher in the Biobased economy. What are his experiences? We asked him!
What is your background before coming to the Netherlands? How did you end up here?
I was a student of Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Viçosa, in Brazil, from 2012 until 2018. In 2018 I did my final internship here at the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy, at Avans, and after I was finished, I went back to Brazil to graduate. However, I really wanted to continue being part of the project I was working here. Luckily for me, at that point, there was a Junior Researcher position available that would allow me to do that. So I did my best to get it, and here I am!
*Translated and adapted from the original article published at Avans Punt
Sewage water contains all kinds of valuable substances. PHA is a bioplastic made by bacteria existent in sewage water and it can be degraded by them again. So it could be good replacement for all the plastic that, for example, contains your salad or smoothie and that normally ends up on the mountain of waste. At the Center of Expertise Biobased Economy of Avans and Hogeschool Zeeland, Brazilian students conduct research to produce PHA from sewage water.
Tielly Lubiana de Menezes and Thalles Mercês Carreiro, from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, are working to obtain PHA from sewage water.
The next step in the development of the Living Lab Biobased Brazil: after student exchange and teacher exchange and cooperation now comes research cooperation through joint projects. In this newsletter you can find descriptions of a few smaller joint research projects. There are several formats for setting up funded cooperation, for instance in the context of the European Union. On top, FAPEMIG and SIA are currently performing a series of innovative calls for joint research projects supporting particularly the Living Lab Brazil. The format of the call is considered a pilot and will be evaluated by SIA and FAPEMIG.