Plastics recycling is a major current issue, making it possible to reduce the ecological and environmental impacts linked to their production and consumption. This involves developing specific recycling processes depending on the plastics. Present in great variety in all plastics, additives cause an issue in mechanical recycling (the most widely used recycling method): their presence and mixture results in poor quality recycled material. Some additives, which have become regulated, pollute the recycled material and prevent its further use.
Catalysis, Biocatalysis and Separation
Process efficiency in the field of energy and biomass conversion is a contemporary and urgent societal issue. Heterogeneous catalysis is a key enabling technology towards this goal. In that context, understanding catalysis at the molecular level for minimizing the use of rare and noble metal will contribute to make processes more environmentally friendly, i.e. by moving from supported nanoparticles to smaller clusters or isolated metal sites.
Through various research programs, IFP Energies nouvelles is now strongly involved in the development of bioprocesses for biofuels and bio-based chemical intermediates. The overwhelming majority of bio-based fermentation products are obtained today through a microbial monoculture approach. However, this approach faces limits when it comes to complex biotransformations. Furthermore, at industrial scale, fermentations cannot be carried out under perfectly aseptic conditions. Bioprocesses are therefore regularly subject to chronic or acute contamination.
Catalytic processes have long been used regularly in academia and in various industries. One of the major objectives of catalysis today is to improve catalytic systems by combining the performance of homogeneous catalysis with the ease of implementation of heterogeneous catalysis.
Solid/liquid emulsions, known as Pickering emulsions, are an excellent means of preparing well-controlled batch liquid/solid/liquid media. These emulsions can then be transformed into catalytic micro-capsules with a well-controlled geometry.
To limit greenhouse gas emissions, IFPEN is developing new amine-based solvents for CO2 capture in fumes (thermal power stations, steelworks, cement factories…). These mainly contain CO2, water, N2 and O2 but also different impurities such as sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) at different concentrations depending on the emitter. In contact with these species, amines can undergo degradation, which leads to losses of amines and formation of volatile products which are potentially harmful to the environment.
Butadiene is a crucial chemical, notably for the manufacturing of elastomers and tires but currently is only produced from fossil sources. In the transition to the sustainable economy, the ethanol-to-butadiene reaction has emerged as a promising solution to secure its production but above all to limit its environmental footprint. As a result, it has gathered significant scientific interest and private companies are investigating its application. The development of dedicated catalysts for this reaction is therefore a priority area of research.
Adipic acid is considered as the most important dicarboxylic acid of global market. Its main application concerns the synthesis of polyamides-6,6, also called “Nylon”. Today, this chemical is obtained via a petrochemical process starting from cyclohexane oxidation. Therefore, there is a high interest in the development of new environmentally friendly synthetic pathways allowing us to prepare adipic acid starting from renewable sources, while keeping high values of productivity and avoiding the formation of pollutant side-products.