The European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE), Brussels, has bestowed its Excellence Award in Process Intensification on Danilo Cantero for his thesis on supercritical hydrolysis of cellulose or biomass to produce sugars. The approach could dramatically reduce the size of the reactors for such a conversion compared to traditional methods, says the EFCE.
The approach uses water at supercritical conditions to depolymerize the cellulose or biomass, achieving sugar yields as high as 95%; the reactor also can serve as a heat exchanger. The method provides a faster rate of reaction while also decreasing glucose decomposition. Cantero’s work demonstrates the process could produce the same amount of sugar as conventional methods in a reactor that’s 5,000 times smaller.
Cantero wrote his thesis, “Intensification of Cellulose Hydrolysis Process by Supercritical Water, Obtaining of Added Value Products,” while at the University of Valladolid, Spain.
The award includes a €1,500 cash prize.