Biomass Conversion and Processing Technologies of Carbon-Based Materials for Environmental and Energy Application Development

A special issue of Biomass (ISSN 2673-8783).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (19 April 2023) | Viewed by 12399

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering, Edmonton, AB T6G 1H9, Canada
Interests: biomass conversion and processing; process optimization; novel biomaterials development; lignocellulosic nanochemistry; biopolymers; pulp and paper technology; biomaterials science; greentech; circular economy

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Guest Editor
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Interests: polymer; biopolymer; composite; composites design; biocomposite; nanocomposite; smart materials; additive manufacturing; celluloses; fiber; nanocelluloses; lignin; carbon-based materials; formulation; process optimization; performance; economic feasibility studies; machine learning
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, the conversion of renewable lignocellulosic biomass fibres and natural biopolymers into chemicals, liquid fuels and feed supplements has gained considerable attention. This is mainly due to the volatility in petroleum prices and the high energy intensity in the production of chemicals, synthetic polymers, fibres, and textiles. With appropriate conversion and extraction technologies as well as appropriate modification and characterization, lignocellulosic biomass fibres can be integrated into bio-based products. Their use in novel materials and various applications favours the future use of lignocellulosic biomass components with substantial environmental and economic benefits.

Challenges are also presented by global warming and environmental pollution, which lead to the requirement of sustainable carbon-rich precursors for carbon materials. Among those advanced materials explored, the use of biomass for carbon materials is aligned with the concept of green chemistry and has drawn a great deal of attention due to the excellent properties of these materials, such as high specific surface area and tunable porous structures. In addition, biomass-carbon-based materials are considered to be green and viable alternative photocatalysts due to their environmentally friendly and naturally abundant nature. Biomass-derived carbons have potential use in photocatalytic materials for environmental remediation, activated carbon, fuel cells, electrocatalytic water-splitting devices, supercapacitors, lithium-ion batteries, etc. for energy-storage devices. There is a great opportunity to produce renewable carbon-based materials for environmental and energy applications from biomass, but there are several challenges which need to be addressed—particularly the challenges associated with the synthesis and properties of such materials.

This Special Issue focuses on biomass conversion, especially into carbon-based materials for environmental and energy applications, and the associated challenges and opportunities.

Dr. Behzad Ahvazi
Dr. Tri-Dung Ngo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biomass conversion technologies
  • processing optimization
  • carbon-based materials
  • environmental remediation/mitigation
  • energy conservation
  • carbon, carbonization, synthesis, modification, activated carbon, supercapacitors

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 6286 KiB  
Article
Seaweed Pellets as a Renewable Fuel Feedstock
by Mohiodin Nazemi, Runar Unnthorsson and Christiaan Richter
Biomass 2023, 3(1), 78-95; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomass3010006 - 20 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4443
Abstract
Seaweed can be a desirable source of renewable energy or fuel after it has been processed by combustion, thermochemical conversion by gasification, pyrolysis, or hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) or biochemical conversion routes like anaerobic digestion (AD). This work explores how well the measured properties [...] Read more.
Seaweed can be a desirable source of renewable energy or fuel after it has been processed by combustion, thermochemical conversion by gasification, pyrolysis, or hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) or biochemical conversion routes like anaerobic digestion (AD). This work explores how well the measured properties of seaweed pellets match the specifications for the various fuel and energy conversion options listed. Blends of hay, wood chips, sawdust, and seaweed were pelletized. Eight pellet blends with dominant seaweed content and minimum acceptable mechanical strength and stability were produced and their physical and chemical properties were reported. The seaweed pellets had an energy content of around 14 MJ/kg, and each pellet could withstand almost 200 N of compression force. Their water content was around 5% or less and their ash content was around 20–34%. According to the results, a higher wood content increased the energy content of the pellets. Among those properties measured in this project, none of them contradicted the typical specifications of combustion, HTL, and AD. However, the low water content and low strength of some pellet types were unable to meet the specifications for certain types of gasification and pyrolysis. Full article
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15 pages, 1466 KiB  
Article
Characterization of Poultry Litter Biochar and Activated Biochar as a Soil Amendment for Valorization
by Sheela Katuwal, Amanda J. Ashworth, Nur-Al-Sarah Rafsan and Praveen Kolar
Biomass 2022, 2(4), 209-223; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomass2040014 - 21 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2110
Abstract
Biochar applications to soils may enhance soil quality, hydrological properties, and agronomic productivity. Modification of biochar by activation via introduction of heteroatoms at different pyrolysis conditions can alter physical and chemical characteristics, which may enhance soil properties, although the extent of this is [...] Read more.
Biochar applications to soils may enhance soil quality, hydrological properties, and agronomic productivity. Modification of biochar by activation via introduction of heteroatoms at different pyrolysis conditions can alter physical and chemical characteristics, which may enhance soil properties, although the extent of this is unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate the impacts of pyrolysis temperature (400, 500, 600, and 700 °C) on activated (activated with methanesulfonic acid) and unactivated biochar produced from poultry litter to identify optimum production conditions for end use as a soil amendment. Physical, chemical, and surface properties of biochars were determined using wet chemistry and spectroscopic analyses. Results showed that activation with methanesulfonic acid increased biochars’ oxygen content, while decreasing its point of zero charge and electrical conductivity. Conversion of raw poultry litter to activated and unactivated biochar increased concentration of P (3-fold), K (1.8-fold), Ca (3-fold), Mg (2.3-fold), and S (4.8-fold), with concentrations increasing with increasing temperatures (p < 0.05) except for C and N. Activated biochar had lower recovery of C and N, but greater water-holding capacity than unactivated biochar. Concentrations of NH4-N, NO3-N, and water-soluble P were greater in unactivated biochar (p < 0.05). Among all biochars, activated biochar produced at 400 °C had the lowest bulk density, total P, K, Ca, and Mg, and greatest water-holding capacity, water-soluble P, Ca, and Mg concentrations, thereby suggesting improved soil amendment characteristics and subsequent soil health under poultry litter biochars produced under these conditions. Full article
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Review

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23 pages, 7337 KiB  
Review
Biomass-Derived Advanced Carbon-Based Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction
by Srijib Das, Souvik Ghosh, Tapas Kuila, Naresh Chandra Murmu and Aniruddha Kundu
Biomass 2022, 2(3), 155-177; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomass2030010 - 15 Aug 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2784
Abstract
Noble metal-based materials are enormously used as a cathode material for electrocatalytic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), which plays an important role in determining the performance of energy conversion and storage devices such as fuel cells, metal-air battery, and so on. The practicability of [...] Read more.
Noble metal-based materials are enormously used as a cathode material for electrocatalytic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), which plays an important role in determining the performance of energy conversion and storage devices such as fuel cells, metal-air battery, and so on. The practicability of these energy devices is mainly related to the cost of the cathodic ORR electrocatalyst. Hence, a cost-effective and environmentally benign approach is highly demanding to design the electrocatalyst for ORR and replacing noble metal-based electrocatalyst. In this regard, biomass-derived hierarchically porous carbon-based materials have become attractive options compared to metal-based electrocatalysts due to their several advantages such as abundance in nature, economic viability, characteristic sustainability, environmental friendliness, and excellent physicochemical properties. Moreover, harsh chemicals are not being involved during their synthesis, and they intrinsically possess a variety of heteroatoms (N, P, S, etc.), which are key for augmenting the electrocatalytic activity. In the present review article, the recent progress on biomass-derived cathode electrocatalysts has been summarized for ORR including a brief account of bioresource selection, synthesis methods, and processing criteria that greatly influences the electrocatalytic activity. Full article
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13 pages, 3777 KiB  
Review
Recent Progress in Green Conversion of Biomass Alcohol to Chemicals via Aerobic Oxidation
by Yifei Zhang, Changhai Cao and Gao Li
Biomass 2022, 2(2), 103-115; https://doi.org/10.3390/biomass2020007 - 16 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2053
Abstract
The aerobic oxidation of biomass transformations into valuable chemical products via a green catalytic process is one of the most important protocols because of its low reaction temperature and high productivity rate. Recently, the introduction of small-sized Cu and Au nanoparticles (e.g., 1–3 [...] Read more.
The aerobic oxidation of biomass transformations into valuable chemical products via a green catalytic process is one of the most important protocols because of its low reaction temperature and high productivity rate. Recently, the introduction of small-sized Cu and Au nanoparticles (e.g., 1–3 nm) upon the surface of oxides can provide more catalytic active sites and then enhance the catalytic activity of aerobic oxidations significantly. The introduction of these metal nanoparticles is a kind of perfect catalyst for enhancing the efficiency of the activation of oxygen molecules and the separation of photo-generated holes and electrons during the photo-oxidation reactions. In this account, we summarize recent progress of the aerobic oxidation of biomass alcohol toward the production of highly valuable chemicals over supported catalysts of metal nanoparticles (NPs), including methanol conversion into methyl formate via photo-oxidation over CuOx/TiO2 nanocomposites, biomass ethanol transformation with biomass furfural to produce hydrocarbons biofuels over Au/NiO catalysts, and glucose oxidation to gluconic acid using Au/activated carbon (Au/AC) as catalysts. Furthermore, at the atomic level, to understand the structure-property correlations, insights into molecular activations of oxygen and biomass, and the investigation of active catalytic sites on photo/catalysts will be detailed and discussed. Finally, future studies are needed to achieve more exciting progress in the fundamental revealing of the catalytic reaction mechanisms and conversion pathway and the future perspective in industrial applications. Full article
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