Yale University
225 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06520
phone: 203.432.5215
greenchemistry@yale.edu

Energy

  • Extraction of Algal Lipids for Use in Biodiesel Production

     Details...
    The objective of this research is to contribute to the development of algal lipids as a viable biofuel energy source by optimizing lipid extraction techniques for efficiency, sustainability, decreased hazard, and selectivity.
    Photo: Extraction of Algal Lipids for Use in Biodiesel Production

    Due to the growing demand for energy and the depletion of non-renewable sources, alternative fuel sources need to be researched and brought to the level where viable implementation can occur.  To advance the realization of algae as a feedstock for biodiesel, process technologies and closed-loop biomass use must be optimized. The objective of this research is to develop the potential of algal lipid for use in biodiesel production by optimizing lipid extraction techniques for efficiency, sustainability, decreased hazard, and selectivity. In particular, extraction improvements will include cell disruption, greener solvent systems (i.e. supercritical fluid extraction), selective extraction, and simplified extraction-fuel conversion processes.  Further research will be conducted on algae cell optimization as a starting material as well as on potential end-use applications for unused biomass.

  • One-pot extraction and transesterification of algal lipids

     Details...
    This research aims to extract and transesterify algal lipids in one step for the direct production of biodiesel from algae feedstocks

    The implementation of algae as a fuel source is hindered by gaps in technology making the biodiesel production process currently inefficient.  Life-cycle analysis (LCA) of the biodiesel production process highlights the potential significant impact of a more effective single-step lipid extraction and transesterification process.  This research seeks to combine these steps by utilizing heterogeneous catalysts and supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) as a green solvent for both the extraction and transesterification of triglycerides to biodiesel.  This worked is aimed at providing a low temperature and thus low energy reaction system with the potential to produce biodiesel efficiently, selectively, and sustainably.

  • Oxidative Degradation of Lignin

     Details...
    Oxidative degradation of lignin model compounds using green oxidants, naturally abundant transition metals, and environmentally benign solvents.

    Our approach is to test different manganese based complexes and salts with green oxidants on lignin model compounds that we have prepared. These models allow us to more easily determine the extent and mode of oxidation that each set of complexes/oxidants are capable of. It is our intention to use naturally abundant transition metals, environmentally friendly oxidants, and the greenest solvents possible. Once we have a system that has been shown to degrade the models we can move on to actual lignin.