Prof. Dr. A. Kokossis


Prof. Dr. A. Kokossis

National Technical University of Athens, Greece

Title: On the integrated design of lignin-first biorefineries using green solvents and an integrated systems approach

Abstract: The design of biorefineries from pilots and installed facilities bears tremendous social and economic benefits. By 2020, Bloomberg predicts that, only in Europe, there would be around 1,000 of such new units bringing €32.3 trillion revenues and 1 million new jobs. Process systems engineering has a pivotal and critical role in the development of biorefineries. The general view is increasingly supported by results and analysis that prove the significance of systems engineering in future developments. The design and synthesis of biorefineries constitutes a complex problem challenged to cope with the large and unknown product portfolios as they arise from different chemical itineraries and processing paths (value chain analysis) as well as process engineering options to select units and integrate them into a plant (process synthesis, process integration). In all cases, the designs are required to match maximum efficiencies in the use of materials/energy and to assess uncertainties in processing and economic parameters that may affect the selected designs and the level of integration.

The presentation explains the use of a systems framework for the development of lignin-first biorefineries using green solvents. Green solvents are introduced to provide for a mild pre-treatment of biomass avoiding cleavage of the ether bonds and the spontaneous re-polymerization of C-C bonds. They are used and tested either in pure form or as mixtures with conventional solvents. In parallel, value chain analysis is applied to evaluate reaction paths that are available to integrate. The economic analysis has concluded to a multi-product plant that combines the production of levulinic acid, furfural and lignin-based aromatics. Flowsheeting models are developed and tuned to match experimental results with respect to yields and the separation efficiencies of the unit operations. Process integration identified a significant scope for energy savings ranging from 20-60% for the different scenarios analysed and studied. In unmixed green solvents the energy use does only rely on LP and MP steam. The use of mixtures of solvents lead to higher temperature profiles and the use of higher-pressure steam. However, they are more demanding on investment and capital expenditure. In all cases the use of green solvents offers a promising and viable approach that can be further combined with other chemistries that also target lignin for chemicals (e.g. organosolv methods).

Biography: Dr. Kokossis, FIChemE, FIEE, FRSA, and FIET, is Professor of Process Systems Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens. He holds a Diploma in Chemical Engineering from NTUA and a PhD from Princeton University. He developed an academic career in UK in UK (Manchester, Surrey) for 22 years before he returned to his alma mater in 2009. He holds research expertise in process systems design and integration with a strong emphasis on renewable energy systems, polygeneration, and the design of biorefineries and industrial symbiosis networks. His research spans across multiphase reactors, complex separation and reactive-separation systems, energy and power networks, and environmental problems across a wide spectrum of applications (water reuse, recycle, and regeneration systems, wastewater management, gasification, waste to energy projects). He has established collaboration with several industrial companies (UOP, ICI, Bayer, Mitsubishi, Exxon, Eastman, MW Kellogg, BP Oil, Unilever, Chimar, BPF, CIMV, DSM, Arkema, Granherne, Linnhoff-March) and graduated 27 PhD and 60 MSc students. He holds 142 communications in International conferences, 129 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and 70 invited lectures in conferences universities, and multinational companies. He is National Representative of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Greek Secretary for Research and Technology in Climate Change (GSRT), and the Computer Aided Process Engineering (CAPE) Group of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE).