- Characterisation of sulphur functionalities in solid materials: fossil fuels and rubber.
In this research topic, we use a reductive pyrolytic technique (called AP-TPR) coupled on-line with different detection systems: a potentiometric one, using H+ and a S2- selective electrode, and a mass spectrometer (MS). Herewith, evolutions of H2S (respectively system 1 and 2) and other volatiles (respectvely system 2) can be followed as a function of the increasing temperature. Out of these evolution profiles information can be deduced concerning the kind of sulphur functionalities original present as concerning the thermal degradation process in the sample.
An on-line as off-line GC/MS system is also coupled with the used reactor (oven). Via an adsorption and desorpion route a more detailed and specific determination of all volatile compounds can be formulated using GC/MS. There is a broad active international network involved in this study.
Soft oxidative and bio-desulphurisation treatment procedures of fossil fuels are now being studied using this technique within international collaboration projects.
- Thermal treatment and valorisation of (contaminated) biomass and organic waste streams.
In this research topic a flash pyrolysis method is applied on waste materials at relatively low temperature. Now the focus is on biomass in general and on biomass contaminated with high amounts of heavy metals. The purpose is at first to obtain high amounts of bio-oil (free of heavy metals and with low concentration of pyrolyitc water). In a next step we try to validate the bio-oil as a bio-fuel with higher heating value and to obtain a more homogeneous composition. Additionally we try to upgrade this bio-oil as a secondary feedstock with added value for the preparation of chemicals.
In the case of contaminated biomass (obtained from a well controlled fytoremediation process) the optimised flash pyrolysis process results in a char (residue) where all heavy metals are found accumulated and thus concentrated. In this way a possible validation and recycling of the heavy metals are possible by a suitable process. This is also under study.
- Advanced techniques to tackle fine dust (PM 10 and smaller)
Within a collaborative project, a broad set of our analytical tools is used to study the particle sizes and the metals ad- and absorbed onto and into these fine particles. The purpose of this study is trying to enlarge these fine particles and prevent them to be emitted into the air. AAS, ICP, XR, SEM-XRD, TEM, TGA, TGA-MS, TGA-FTIR and particle size equipment is used.
- Research on bioplastics as alternative for packaging materials
Bioplastics (eg BHA) are studied as an alternative for packaging materials with specific emphasis on gaspermeability, biodegradation and mechanical properties.