Nikolai DeMartini

Niko DeMartiniAssistant Professor, PhD
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in the Role of Inorganics in the Industrial Processing of Woody Biomass
Room WB225 | Tel.: 416-978-4318 | Email: nikolai.demartini@utoronto.ca

Research Interests

From pulp and paper to biofuels, many industries are based on turning renewable biomass — trees, plants, food waste — into energy and green materials. While the biomass feedstock of these industries is organic matter, the behavior of inorganics plays a significant role in emissions, overall process efficiency, and capital costs. My team’s research is focused on the role and fate of inorganics in the industrial processing of biomass and biomass derived wastes.

The process waters of the pulping industry contain both salts used in pulping and the inorganics dissolved from wood. These inorganics precipitate out on heat transfer surfaces, in pipes and on agitator and pump blades. A key part of our research is on understanding the solubility of the salts and their crystallization behaviour. An important element of this work is using this knowledge to help industry to improve their operations. This work involves measuring solubility limits, thermodynamic modeling, mill measurements and modeling of the chemical recovery cycle in pulp mills.

The second area of research is in the area of thermal conversion of biomass derived fuels. Our research includes processes such as pyrolysis, gasification and combustion. Of particular interest is release of inorganics and understanding the conditions leading to their release. This is important in the design and operation of industrial units being used to process lower grade biomass feedstocks and wastes, which tend to have higher concentrations of problematic inorganic elements.

Close collaboration with industry gives students opportunities to see their research applied and at the same time provides us with interesting scientific questions as industry pushes towards more efficient and environmentally friendly operation.

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