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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

goslings outside MRRC

Green Frontiers - novel chemical technologies

How can chemical and other industries reduce damaging environmental effects and comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations?

Cambridge University's June Horizon seminar Green Frontiers - novel chemical technologies looked at the new and exciting research undertaken in novel, sustainable chemical technologies, waste treatment, materials recycling and process efficiency that minimise waste and lower damage to the environment and human health. It took place at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences on 27th June 2006.

Amongst the leading academic and industry experts were Prof. Howard Chase, Prof. Malcolm Mackley and Mr Bob Skelton from the Department of Chemical Engineering. Other speakers were Prof. Derek Fray, Dr Jonathan Goodman and Dr Florian Hollfelder (University of Cambridge), Prof. Mark Hillmyer (University of Minnesota) and Andreas Kicherer (Head of eco-efficiency, BASF AG).

Prof Howard Chase presented a paper entitled Microwave pyrolysis of plastic laminate wastes: spinning out research innovation.
Food and drink packaging like milk and fruit juice cartons are difficult to recycle because they contain aluminium, cardboard and plastic. The abstract for Prof Chase's paper goes on to say, "We have developed a novel process in which the residue following depulping of the paper content is subject to a pyrolytic process driven by microwave heating in order to recover the aluminium. The fundamental research which was originally supported by an EPSRC grant has been subject to University's technology transfer procedures and through the winning of awards for entrepreneurism has resulted in the setting up of a spin-out company (Enval Limited). The scientific basis of the process and the sequence of the technology transfer will both be described."
Prototype equipment for the recovery of aluminium from plastic aluminium laminate wastes e.g. depulped Tetrapak®
the team with  rig Prof Malcolm Mackley (on the left) and Mr Bob Skelton (on the right) presented a paper entitled Going green making bio-diesel.
Biodiesel is a sustainable, cleaner burning alternative fuel to crude-oil derived diesel. It may be produced from waste cooking oils such as rapeseed oil. The photograph shows the initial small scale equipment in use in 2002 and this was later scaled up to a pilot plant capable of producing 30 litres per hour.
There is currently potential for a large market for biodiesel with a European directive setting a target that by 2010, 5.75% of all road transport should be powered by biofuels.

Further information

Horizon seminars
Horizon seminars
Green Frontiers - novel chemical technologies
Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Award: EnvAl
Biodiesel pilot plant
Clean Energy Technology and Investment Show

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