Bio-Renewable Lab (BRIL) is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment:
- A Frontier Laboratories Multi-Function Pyrolyzer (EGA/PY-3030D) with GCMS and other support system for thermal analysis of organic materials.
- Two high pressure and temperature reactors with precious temperature control for hydrothermal conversion of wet agri-waste and agri-processing feedstocks.
- A custom design laboratory scale continuous high pressure and temperature reactor for hydrothermal conversion of wet agri-waste and agri-processing feedstocks.
- A custom design pilot scale continuous high pressure and temperature reactor for hydrothermal conversion of wet agri-waste and agri-processing feedstocks.
- A continuous flow supercritical water gasification setup to analyze the gasification process of a feed material (e.g. biomass, plastics, and chemicals).
- A custom Tubular Quartz wool matrix reactor for torrefaction, pyrolysis and gasification of solid materials with online products separation.
- A continuous flow fermenter for producing chemicals and ethanol from syngas.
- A fluidized bed reactor for biomass conversion.
- Simultaneous DSC-TGA to study weight loss kinetics for samples.
- Analytical FT-IR (Nicolet 6700 FT-IR Spectrometer) integrated with TGS/DSC.
- Elemental analyzer to evaluate C, H, N, O and S from biomass, waste, coal plastics, soil etc.
- Retsch PM100 ball mill with accessories for size analysis of solids materials.
- Online gas analyzer.
State-of-the-art equipment to be acquired in 2022-2023:
- CFI funded a high-performance state-of-the-art research-grade high temperature and pressure thermogravimetric analyzer, TGA, with comprehensive software data analysis package that includes a high temperature corrosion resistant pressurized sample/reactor cell, a flow gas and vapor dosing system, and a high temperature furnace to be coupled with a quadrupole mass spectrometer (MS). The system has a dynamic weight capacity of 25 g with resolution of 10 μg, and is capable of automatic zero point drift correction and balance calibration. The high temperature furnace provides control of the sample cell to a maximum of 1200°C.Gases (e. g. N2, O2, He, Ar, H2, CH4, CO, CO2, …) and vapor/steam can be dosed by the flow gas & vapor dosing system providing continuous flow. An ideal system of agri-food, plastic wastes conversion to hydrogen and fuels.
- NSERC RTI funded Analysis Devices for Biomass Conversion and Catalyst Characterization. The proposed system is a nanopore and catalyst analyzer BEL CAT SORP II with multicomponent gas and VOC sorption capabilities for taking our ongoing biocarbon research to the next level. The equipment’s potential to integrate with a dedicated benchtop-type quadrupole mass spectrometer is highly advantageous and cost-effective, as it will enable us to quantitatively evaluate corrosive and mixed gas sorption.
The state-of-the-art equipment available at BRIL support more efficient, accurate and reproducible thermal conversion. They facilitate significantly enhanced analysis capacity and flexibility, allowing users to characterize virtually any organic materials, including solids, liquids and gas. In addition, the double shot capability in GCMS delivers two analyses of a single sample; the first shot produces a total ion chromatogram of the volatile fraction of the sample in a GC/MS, and the second shot produces a polygram of the polymeric fraction of the sample. This critical set of information is an inherently major limitation in other conventional pyrolytic equipment and may lead to missing characteristic sample traits. Currently there is no such multifunctional pyrolyzer and continuous HTC reactor available at University of Guelph or at nearby universities. The listed equipment and infrastructure have further strengthened U of G’s capability of performing cutting-edge research in the area of bio-economy in the context of circular economy and zero waste scenario. In short, BRIL Lab facility supports:
- Characterization of biomass and renewable resources.
- Manipulation and monitoring of thermal and hydrothermal conversions.
- Establishing chemical conversion routes and preparation of renewable material and energy.
- Modeling of efficient applications of renewable resources.
Education and Employment Background
Prof. Animesh Dutta received his PhD from Dalhousie University in 2002. Dutta joined the School of Engineering, U of G, in May 2010 after five years of appointment as an Assistant Professor in two other institutes: Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), a postgraduate institute in Thailand (July 2005–Sept. 2007), and Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia (Oct. 2007–April 2010). Prior to his academic appointment in 2005, Dutta worked for multiple research organizations where his last designation was Research and Development Manager. Currently, Dutta is a full Professor and the Director of Bio-Renewable Innovation Lab (BRIL) in the U of G’s School of Engineering.
Dutta specializes in advanced energy systems and thermo-fluid science. He aims to develop a wide variety of bioproducts including bio-carbon (potential substitute for coal), bio-oil (potential substitute for petroleum), and syngas (the main building block of any fuel and chemicals) from non-food waste bioresources through green thermo-chemical and bio-chemical processes. Key research themes include:
- Waste to wealth. Dutta's discovery research program proposes to valorize biomass derived waste streams. The traditional waste management system contributes to the depletion of raw resources, the exhaustion of sites suitable for land filling, the dispersion of toxic materials into the environment, and the generation of greenhouse gases (GHG). Mimicking nature, the “closed loop approach” concept is explored. A unique aspect of this envisioned advanced bio-refinery approach is to target the recovery of value from every co-product of biomass conversion by utilizing the outputs of one process as the input to another, leading to zero waste solutions.
- Biomass co-firing and/or replacement of coal in existing fossil fuel plants. Dutta aims to support the immediate implementation of GHG reduction in large power plants with carbon-neutral biomass. In collaboration with a team of experienced academic, industry and government professionals, he is evaluating the implementation of torrefaction of biomass (agricultural residues) to achieve large-scale commercial production of torrefied biomass, and supply bioenergy for industrial applications and power generation.
- Chemical looping thermal gasification of biomass. Dutta aims to achieve near-term GHG reduction through production of hydrogen from biomass. He is exploring the production of H2 from biomass with simultaneous separation of CO2. The technology will serve the twin purpose of regenerating the sorbent, and generation of N2-free H2 and CO2. The idea of biomass gasification to produce H2-enriched gas on a continuous basis with simultaneous regeneration of sorbent (chemical looping) is a novel and original approach.
- Biomass conversion in supercritical water. Dutta is exploring longer-term GHG reduction, as a future frontier technology for hydrogen production from biomass. A novel integrated hydrogen production scheme using supercritical water gasification in fluidized bed is planned to examine where the char coatings on the catalysts will be deliberately burnt, thus producing heat for and the gasification process, while regenerating catalysts at the same time.
- Valorization of agricultural and food wastes. Dutta is exploring a hybrid thermochemical and biochemical approach to produce hydrochar/activated carbon, bio-methane, and bio-fertilizer from wet biomass using the circular economy concept. These resources have low net CO2 emissions and, if economic, environmental, and social impacts are properly managed, they can potentially be sustainable.
- Hydrogen-rich gas production with storage. Steam gasification of biomass has the potential to produce H2-rich syngas. The enrichment in H2 can be further enhanced by capturing CO2 with a desirable sorbent material in the process. Calcium oxide (CaO) is one of the best sorbents for CO2 capture in gasification. Dutta’s past studies on corn fibre shows a very high amount of H2 and N2 content in its composition, which makes this feedstock a great candidate for both H2 production and H2 storage. The research will utilize limestone and corn fibre to produce H2-rich gas with CO2 capture, and develop biocarbon based H2 storage materials.
- Funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2018–2023
- Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs funding, 2011–2026
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)Discovery Grant, 2009–2026
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)Research Tools and Instruments. 2022, 2009
- Funding from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leaders Opportunity Fund, 2013 and CFI John R. Evans Leaders Fund, 2017, 2021
- Best in Science Award from Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Ontario, 2014–2020
- CEPS Graduate Supervision Award, 2019
- New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Panel Member, 2019
- Henan Outstanding Foreign Scientist, School of Chemical Engineering and Energy of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, China, 2017–2022
- NSERC Evaluation Panel Member for Discovery Grant Application (1511), 2016–2018
- Guest Editor, Energies, 2016
Turning Food Waste into Bioproducts:
Seeking academic or industry partnerships in the area of:
- Scaling-up studies for hydrothermal conversions.
- Biocarbon production and commercial applications.
- Generating a scientific database and establishing thermal conversion routes and intermediates for various biomass and bioresources using PY-GC/MS and supporting investigations.
- Plastic waste conversion
- Pyrolysis and gasification technologies