Posted on 19 April 2017
The team, which includes scientists from York’s Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC), will be trialling different methods for converting three bio-based starting materials into a porous carbon: potato starch, alginic acid and fruit pectin.
Scientists say the resulting material could be used for energy storage for electric vehicles and as a green catalyst for the chemicals industry.
Duncan Macquarrie, of the University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, said: “The first step in our conversion uses expansion technologies, then we freeze dry the material before converting it into a carbon material using a furnace.
“We are investigating using this as a catalyst for chemical processes and to make batteries for electric vehicles.”
Peter Hurst, Senior Technologist at the BDC, added: “We are using the porosity offered by nature to engineer a stable material with controlled pores, like changing the hole sizes in a sponge.
“By manipulating these and studying how they interact with other materials, like metals, we can change how the material performs; ultimately improving its effectiveness for different uses.”
David Amantia, Principal Investigator for the project from Leitat, Spain, added: “Fundamentally, this project is about replacing a fossil resource, with a more sustainable, biorenewable alternative.
“What is exciting, is that by bringing together the nine partners, we are able to hone the technology from research level right through to a scaled-up production process for industrial testing.”
The team at the BDC will take the process from a lab scale of 100g, and scale it up to develop a pilot line capable of producing up to 20kg/day of the material.
This will provide enough sample material for the industry partners to test and analyse.
If successful, one of the project outcomes will be a pilot-scale production plant for producing this material, based at the BDC in York, UK.
The four-year project is funded by the EU’s Horizon2020 programme.