Dr. Hanwu Lei and his research group featured in a top journal

The August 2016 issue of the journal of Green Chemistry features the research article from Dr. Lei’s group, “Catalytic co-pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass with polymers: a critical review.” (Front cover based on a design by Drs. Xuesong Zhang and Hanwu Lei; Dr. Xuesong Zhang is the recent PhD graduate from Dr. Lei’s group).

Green Chemistry is a top journal (Impact Factor: 8.506) and the frontiers of the interdisciplinary science of alternative sustainable technologies and publishes cutting-edge research that attempts to reduce the environmental impact of the chemical enterprise by developing a technology base that is inherently non-toxic to living things and the environment.

Dr. Lei’s research on reducing the environmental impact by catalytic co-pyrolysis: Tremendous quantities of synthetic polymers waste are generated each year worldwide. The global generation of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is close to 40 million tons per year. These polymers waste cause serious damage toward the environment and have detrimental impact on human health. Yet the current fate to manage polymers waste is generally limited by means of landfills and incineration. The state of the art on tertiary recycling technologies like catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) offers a promising alternative to valorize polymers waste. In the light of these premises, Dr. Lei’s research work on the co-feeding of lignocellulosic biomass with polymers waste in catalytic pyrolysis is remarkably beneficial for the environment and energy recapture.

The increasing demand for renewable chemicals and fuels requires the exploitation of alternative feedstock to replace petroleum-derived chemicals and fuels. Lignocellulosic biomass has been considered as the most promising feedstock for the production of sustainable biofuels. Catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) is more amenable to directly converting biomass into high quality biofuel. However, even in the presence of a highly efficient catalyst, the CFP of biomass can solely manufacture a low yield of aromatic hydrocarbon but a high formation of coke. Dr. Lei’s group is working on the addition of a hydrogen-rich co-reactant (e.g. waste plastics) in CFP which can significantly improve the yield of aromatics and lower the coke formation. Catalytic co-pyrolysis can also reduce the disposal of waste polymers (plastics and waste tires) in landfills, solve some environmental issues, and further increase energy security.

Dr. Lei’s working is on the catalytic co-pyrolysis process, starting from feedstock characteristics and availability, understanding of the chemistry in non-catalytic co-pyrolysis, and focusing on the chemistry in the catalytic co-pyrolysis of biomass with various categories of polymers. Recent progress in the experimental studies on both the non-catalytic pyrolysis and catalytic co-pyrolysis of biomass with polymers is on the emphasis of the liquid yield and quality. Dr Lei and his group’s studies demonstrate the remarkable achievement of high jet fuel yield from catalytic co-pyrolysis.

The full article can be viewed at the Green Chemistry website.