Final Thesis

Challenges in Biorefineries: Depolymerising cellulose in electrochemical membrane reactors

Key Info

Basic Information

Chemical Process Engineering
Focus/Key Topic:


Background One of the most challenging steps in biorefineries is the depolymerization of cellulose to glucose. Electrochemical reactors provide an alternative to conventional enzymatic processes. In electrochemistry electrical voltage is used as driving force and thus these reactors have a high potential to valorize the fluctuating peak loads from regenerative power sources. The depolymerization of cellulose in electrochemical reactors is a challenging task: it is difficult to simultaneously and effectively depolymerize cellulose while leaving the product glucose unharmed. In order to achieve this goal, an in-situ separation of glucose is necessary. Tailor-made membranes have been shown to be a suitable means of separation.

Your task In this project your taks will be to study the electrochemical reactor and the membrane module individually before linking them to a hybrid process considering the previously obtained results.

Your tasks
  • vary operational parameters of the reactor to find best depolymerization condicionts
  • fabricate & test different membranes for the desired separtion
  • assemble electrochemical reactor and membrane module to a hybrid process
  • characterize hybrid process
What I expect
  • highly independent working students
  • lab experience
What you can expect
  • experience a different approach to biorefineries
  • learn the basics of electrochemistry (no previous experience needed)
  • learn the basics of how to tailor your membrane for your application
  • a fun working environment