ChemE undergrads heading to the 2022 CCEC

The 2022 Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (CCEC) will be running between October 23 to 26 in Vancouver, BC. Attending the conference through subsidies from the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry are 21 undergraduate students. Additionally, ChemE will be fully funding Mackenzie Gole (ChemE 2T2) and Kelly Yin (ChemE 2T3) to attend the CCEC in recognition of their recent success at this year’s U of T Student Chapter of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering Summer Research Symposium (SRS).

mackenzie goleMackenzie Gole
SRS prize: 1st place
Supervisor: Professor Cathy Chin
Project title: A Kinetic Investigation on the Partial Oxidation of Methanol to Dimethoxymethane Using Vanadia and Iron Molybdate Based Catalysts

Interest in dimethoxymethane (DMM) has increased due to its ability to reduce soot and nitrogen oxide formation when converted to OME3-5 and added to diesel.  Conventionally being a two-step process, a one-step synthesis (made possible using bifunctional catalysts) is heavily desired to reduce the number of process units required. DMM production requires redox sites for the partial oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde, and acid sites for the acetalization of formaldehyde to DMM. V2O5 (supported on TiO2) and FeMoOx are promising candidates for this role due to the considerable amount of redox and acid sites. As such, the kinetics of DMM production on these bifunctional catalysts were investigated. Various parameters were investigated, namely: i) catalyst, ii) residence time, iii) reaction temperature, and iv) feed composition. Impacts of these parameters are discussed in relation to reaction mechanisms to ascertain the validity of the investigation. Preliminary results show the product distribution is dominated by DMM at low temperatures and conversions, while methyl formate and dimethyl ether are the main products at high temperatures and conversions. The tested V2O5 / TiO2 and FeMoOx demonstrate similar yields of DMM (~40%) at their optimal conditions. The results of this study can help construct a detailed kinetic model and can optimize reactor performance for a desired product distribution.

kelly yinKelly Yin
SRS prize: 2nd place
Supervisor: Professor Grant Allen
Project title: Impact of Temperature and Flocculant Addition on Rheological Behaviour of Characterized Biosludge Flocs

The activated sludge process is commonly used for wastewater treatment. During this process, biosludge is generated as a by-product, yet a significant cost is required for its management. It is naturally challenging to dewater biosludge due to its high compressibility. Consequently, developing an efficient dewatering method is beneficial for both economic and environmental considerations. It is noticed that there lacks a comprehensive study on the rheological behaviour of biosludge being compressed under different conditions, while such study will help researchers understand more about the dewatering process. Biosludge flocs exhibit non-Newtonian rheological behaviour when deformed, which is important to dewatering. Previous studies categorized flocs into dark and light flocs based on their rigidity. In this work, effects of temperature variance and flocculant addition on the viscoelastic behaviour of dark and light flocs were studied using an Interfacial Hybrid Rheometer. From obtained rheological data, both dark and light flocs behave more solid-like at a lower temperature and with flocculant added. Besides, dark flocs experienced more drastic changes in their viscoelastic properties after adding flocculants. Additional factors and their effects on flocs’ rheological behaviour should be further studied. Such factors include the concentration and type of flocculants added, and the rheometer’s compression speed.