Best Ideas 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Fuels from waste
Explain your idea in details:
The main idea is the use of urban wastes that are inadequately destined and incorporate economic value through thermochemical conversion processes (slow pyrolysis). The case study is the fruits of Terminalia catappa, also known as "castanhola" in Rio de Janeiro, since they are considered a major problem for the collection companies and the system of waste disposal in the country, due to of being treated only as garbage of sweeping and the fact that these almond trees exist in abundance in all national territory. In this way, this biomass is most often incinerated, releasing greenhouse gases or transported to irregular places and landfilled unnecessarily, where the accumulation, contamination, and decomposition of organic matter occurs, which causes the propagation of vectors and causes negative impacts for the local population. In addition, large urban centers also end up suffering from infrastructure and local health with frequent rains, as the abundance of almonds and leaves from the trees in the streets prevent the drainage of water in the culverts and end up causing flooding. Thus, slow pyrolysis appears as a sustainable alternative of reuse of this material, generating biochar, which can be used as fertilizer or solid fuel; bio-oil and aqueous fraction, which can be used as an additive to produce biofuels, antifungals, antibacterials and among others; and a biogas, which serves as a gaseous fuel. When analyzing the energy potential, the biochar produced has a high calorific value, a parameter that evaluates the energy released in the burning of the fuel, and favorable physical properties to be introduced in boilers and furnaces, thus being a possibility of accessible and quality green energy.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
Among the various objectives of sustainable development (OSD) in which the proposed idea fits, we can see a greater impact in the 7th and 9th OSD, which refer respectively to Clean and Accessible Energy, and Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The slow pyrolysis of almonds is of great importance for the development of clean, renewable and accessible energies since it is in accordance with the principles of green chemistry. In the process, the whole sample is used, there is no waste and sub-products, in addition to the fact that much of the CO2 released in the burning is mitigated by the plant's own growth through the carbon cycle. It is also important to mention that the transformation of these fruits into solid fuel is environmentally friendlier compared to the vegetable coals that are usually produced from the trunk of the trees, since we can reduce deforestation, maintaining a larger green area. In relation to the economics of the 7th OSD, it is realized that technological progress generated by the use of biomass can innovate and optimize several industrial processes. Also, they can generate a great growth in the urban infrastructure in such a way that it can further boost the incentive to the research of new applications for the pyrolysis' products and the use of new biomasses. In the social bias, it is expected that the correct destination of all these fruits could bring an improvement in the quality of life for the local population since a large part of the air pollutants and flood risks in large urban centers would reduce. In addition, the implementation and evolution of this idea would generate new jobs for the different social classes, since the project requires labor from the selective collection of the materials to the industrial scale projection of the conversion processes.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
For the initial stage, it is necessary scientific studies in the area of chemistry and engineering to develop the most appropriate logistics for the collection, separation, transport, quality, chemical composition and physical properties of the biomass and the products obtained. Currently, relevant research on the area of biofuels and use of solid waste has been published by researchers of the Universidade Federal Fluminense in partnership with funding agencies, which may be the first stage for the implementation of the idea on a small scale. Direct contact with the university research groups facilitates the possibility of using the batch pyrolysis reactor to transform the biomass. This small step can provide important data, such as the yield of conversion products, to estimate the amount of biofuel that could be generated and the parameters to be used on a larger scale. Collaboration between the university and municipality would then be an essential part of the research progress since this would optimize the processes involved in collecting and transporting the material, which is currently intended according to municipal legislation. Initial small-scale results could be applied to the university's own resources, serving as a test phase and later brought to higher levels and funded and employed by industries that demonstrate interest and cooperate with this work. During this period of growth, it is essential to quantify the greenhouse gases generated by the process and to adapt the logistics for the implementation of biofuels on a large scale. It is also important to make clear to the population that the investments on sustainable development and renewable energy really do have positive impacts, in order to achieve greater social acceptance of the idea. In this way, as the idea matures, the partnerships between several collaborating institutions increase, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits to the country.
My name is Gustavo Felix Bitencourt, I am 20 years old and I am at the 7th period of Industrial Chemistry degree at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niterói (Brazil). Since my first contact with the academic environment, I have tried to increase my training in order to expand my knowledge through the entry of research laboratories and participation in courses and seminaries. In 2016, I started my complementary training, doing a mini-course on Nuclear Energy, followed in 2017 by joining the SINCROMA research group, headed by Dr. Prof. Gilberto Alves Romeiro, working in the area of Environmental and Organic Chemistry. With this, I was able to get acquainted with the real dynamics of a research laboratory, to learn how to adapt to the different demands of the scientific process and to acquire greater contact with group activities, as well as to familiarize myself with the instrumental methods. This constant process of development in planning and executing different projects allowed me to see the real fruit of my efforts, through my participation in different congresses, such as the XVI Regional Meeting of the Brazilian Chemical Society. In 2018, expanding my area of expertise for Inorganic Chemistry, I was recognized by the Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio de Janeiro, becoming a FAPERJ Scientific Initiation Scholar.