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Queen’s University researcher develops alumina catalyst from aluminium foil waste
Ahmed Osman, a researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, has successfully recycled aluminium foil waste into an alumina based biofuel catalyst. The chemical is found to be more reactive yet cheaper than commercial alumina refined from bauxite. The out-of-the-box approach if adopted in mainstream aluminium recycling could reduce the amount of foil waste that goes to landfill while lessening the damaging impact of bauxite mining on environment.
Previously, Osman developed a way by which soiled aluminium foil can be converted into alumina catalysts for producing the biofuel dimethyl ether (DME). Now, his team has invented a crystallization method using which pure aluminium salts can be obtained from even contaminated waste aluminium foil.
Explaining the process developed, Osman said, “It is well known in catalysis that the percentage of chloride in the catalyst structure can lead to catalyst poisoning. We managed to control this chloride content and our homemade catalyst had half the chlorine content relative to the commercial catalyst.’ The new catalyst also had a higher surface area and larger pore volume than the commercial version, characteristics that ultimately produced a higher catalytic activity.”
“The use of non-precious metals in catalysis is a very important area of research needed to advance sustainability in chemical processing. This work develops the chemistry of a particularly important element, aluminium, which is produced on large scales,” noted Louise Berben, a senior aluminium chemistry research scholar at the University of California, Davis, US. “Efficient recycling of aluminium would contribute greatly to reduction of waste in the mining and chemical industries,” he said.
The process of developing alumina catalyst from recycled aluminium foil offers significant cost benefits as well. So, it may open up a new arena of application for foil feedstock, Osman added.Get fresh Aluminium data and insights
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