Kaige Wang, a researcher with the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies (CSET), and Robert C. Brown, CSET and BEI director, are featured with a inside-front cover story in Green Chemistry’s March 2013 issue. Wang and Brown are also affiliated with Iowa State University’s department of mechanical engineering.
In the article, “Catalytic pyrolysis of microalgae for production of aromatics and ammonia,” the researchers report on an economically- and environmentally-promising microalgae biorefinery pathway. It uses catalytic pyrolysis with HZSM-5 catalyst to convert whole microalgae into aromatic hydrocarbons. This process produces valuable petrochemicals and ammonia, the latter of which can be recycled as a fertilizer for microalgae cultivation. Microalgae present many advantages as a feedstock for biofuel. With the promise catalytic pyrolysis offers for solving some of microalgae’s disadvantages, microalgae biorefineries move one step closer to economic and environmental feasibility.