‘Nanotechnology for Energy & Environment’
Development of renewable energy sources and environmentally benign chemical processes are essential for sustainable development of human society. With this respect, our primary research goal is to develop new advanced catalyst materials and catalytic processes that can contribute to the aforementioned issues, especially by using cutting edge knowledge on nanotechnology.
Sustainable Energy and Chemical Source
The discovery of crude oil in the 19th century provided an inexpensive liquid fuel source and a chemical source for fine chemicals and materials. Now with declining petroleum sources, increasing demand by emerging countries, and political and environmental concerns on fossil fuels, it is imperative to find new chemical feedstock that are economical and sustainable. In this respect, biomass is the only sustainable source of ‘organic carbon’. Furthermore, biofuels can be greenhouse gas neutral if efficient methods for biofuels production are developed.
Biomass-derived feedstocks can be classified into one of the three categories according to the sources: 1) lignocellulosic, 2) sugar or starch-based, 3) triglyceride (fat)-based biomass. The cost of the biomass is dependent on the regional issues, but generally increases in the order: 1 < 2 < 3. The chemical processibility decrease in the order: 1 > 2 > 3. Accordingly, lignocellulose is the cheapest, most difficult feedstock to process, while triglyceride (fat) is the most expensive, easiest feedstock to process. In choosing the biomass feedstock, however, we also need to consider the ethical and moral concerns in addition to the cost and processibility: ethical and moral concerns always arise when edible biomass products are converted to biofuels.
In 2009, US government has a plan to convert ¼ of corn annually produced into bioethanol. The corn amount corresponds to the food that 500 million people can consume annually. If we consider the ever-increasing threat for food crisis, it is vital to develop the technologies for converting no-edible biomass to fuels and chemicals. With this respect, lignocellulose feedstock seems to be only a reasonable source for production of biofuels and chemicals. Lignocellulose is the most abundant biomass feedstock and significantly cheaper than crude oil on an energy basis. The only limiting factor for using lignocellulose feedstock is that low-cost processing technologies into liquid fuels and chemicals do not yet exist. In this respect, our ultimate goal is to develop a chemical process which can efficiently convert lignocellulose feedstock into liquid fuel source and fine chemicals.
Green Chemical Technology
Chemical technology should be developed in a ‘green’ direction that encourages the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances and maximize the energy and resource efficiencies. One of our research concerns is to develop chemical processes that can replace conventional chemical process producing hazardous substances. Our research interests includes economic production of H2O2 for clean oxidation, water remediation (by adsorption and catalysis), development of advanced hydroprocess catalyst for fuel upgrading, and new 3-way catalysts for the removal of automobile exhaust gas.
Minkee Choi (최민기)
Office Phone: +82-42-350-3938