I am a CNRS researcher working on catalytic processes for biomass valorization. My research projects are at the border between biomass chemistry, heterogeneous catalysis and chemical engineering.
Biopolymers coming from lignocellulose (e.g. hemicellulose, lignin) have a complex structure and composition, with broad variations depending on the source of biomass and the extraction process. Depolymerizing these materials is important for their valorization in biorefineries. I investigate the reactivity of these biopolymers in the presence of solid catalysts (mixed oxides, supported metals) in multiphasic fixed bed reactors and also the reactivity of the corresponding monomers (e.g. sugars from hemicelluloses). The goal is to understand the reaction pathways involved in these transformations to improve future processes design.
I am the coordinator of ANR project “CHICHE”. The valorization of hemicelluloses representing 25 to 40% mass of lignocellulose is a key point for the development of biorefineries. The purpose of CHICHE project is to design a continuous catalytic process for valorization of hemicelluloses, integrating several stages of reaction and separation in a single continuous compartmented reactor. In this process, hemicelluloses will be depolymerized into sugars over an acidic catalyst. The sugars obtained in a first reactor compartment will be transferred to a second compartment by membrane separation and then hydrogenated to polyols over a metal catalyst. Through an approach coupling catalysis and chemical engineering, the intrinsic performances of the catalyst(s) and the reaction mechanisms will be determined. The project aims to improve the understanding of reactions and physicochemical phenomena involved for the optimization of future hemicellulose recovery processes.
I am part of the ANR project Phenoliq, coordinated by Guillain Mauviel from LRGP, Nancy, in collaboration with Laurent Djakovitch, IRCELYON, Villeurbanne, and Frédérique Bertaud, CTP, Grenoble. This project deals with the valorisation of lignin, which is a by-product of the pulp and paper industry, into phenolic compounds by a thermochemical process with new catalysts. This project deals more specifically with the development of a novel process: a staged catalytic and continuous liquefaction process. Furthermore, this process is combined with a purification step of the phenols and a synthesis of bio-sourced polymers in order to figure out the quality of the as-produced phenols. This project gathers interdisciplinary skills in energy (FJV, CTP), chemical engineering (FJV, CTP), catalysis (IRCELYON, CP2M), physical-chemistry of polymers (FJV), technical-economical and environmental assessment (CTP). The novelty of this project lies in the following aspects:
- for chemical engineering methodology: the staged liquefaction process is new for lignin and coud be interesting for other fields of application (such as petroleum and coal conversion, recycling of polymers or tyres, purification of liquid waste streams, etc.);
- for catalysis science: new cheap and green catalysts are proposed;
- in term of global assessment of the technical route: this study would offer the first environmental and technical-economical assessment of the route "wood to phenols" applied to currently operated pulp mills in France.
I am also involved in a project dealing with the reactive distillation of black liquor. Black liquor is an aqueous effluent of pulp and paper industry containing, among others, numerous hydroxy-acids interesting for chemical industry. These acids can be recovered through simultaneous distillation and esterification into alkyl esters.
I am a partner of CatReMo ANR project coordinated by Franck Rataboul (IRCELYON) and is a collaboration between IRCELYON, UCCS and CP2M. It is dedicated to the transformation of raw lignocellulosic biomass into glycols and amino derivatives. CP2M is in charge of kinetic modelling of raw biomass transformation in hydrothermal conditions with multifunctional catalyst.
I currently work with:
- Victoria D.S. Freitas (PhD student) on the CHICHE project; Victoria is studying the coupling of hemicellulose depolymerisation, membrane separation and sugars hydrogenation in a continuous reactor. Her PhD is supervised by Pascal Fongarland (CP2M) and co-supervised by Régis Philippe (CP2M) and me.
- Maxime Pichou (master student from ENSIACET) is working on the CHICHE project. He is in charge of implementing hemicellulose hydrolysis reaction in a fixed bed reactor.
- Laura Reyes Villamizar (PhD student) is working on black liquor reactive distillation. Her PhD is supervised by Clémence Nikitine (CP2M) and co-supervised by me and is funded by Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, et de l'Innovation.
- Nicolas Chaussard (master student from CPE) is working on Phenoliq project. He is in charge of implementing lignin oxidation from black liquor in a fixed bed reactor. He is co-supervised by Laurent Djakovitch and me.
- Joe Mouawad (master student from Université de Lille) is working on the design of new oxide catalysts for esterification reactions. He is supervised by Noémie Perret (IRCELYON) and me.
- Anne Julbe and Martin Drobek from IEM (Institut Européen des Membranes) are partners of CHICHE project on the membrane preparation and regeneration.
- Patrick Jame (ISA, Institut des Sciences Analytiques) and Agnès Crépet (IMP, Institut des Matériaux Polymères) are partners of CHICHE project on the biomass characterization.
Other projects and groups that I am interested in include:
- GDR Thermobio gathers researchers on the theme of thermochemical conversion of biomass and waste.
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