66973 - Sustainable Processes for the Energy and Chemical Sector

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student is able to analyze the main processes for the production of energy and chemicals, identifying the critical and the positive point in terms of environmental impact and sustainability. The student can evaluate the alternatives obtained from renewable sources and biomass in particular. the student is also able to analyze the innovative chemical technologies for the abatement of pollutants and hazardous substances from stationary and mobile sources. Finally, the student is able to recognize and analyze the innovative processes and technologies for industrial chemistry and energy on the basis of sustainability criteria, environmental impact indicator and safety evaluation.

Course contents

The focus will be the chemical and physical characteristics, uses, and the environmental impact of raw materials for the chemical and energy. It will be presented a comparison between biomass and fossil raw materials in terms of analysis of the functional groups and opportunities for their transformation. chemical processes form biomass will be detailed described such as hydrogenation processes and transesterification of triglycerides; processes for the production of ethanol from biomass of first and second generation and its use as fuel as such or after transformation into ETBE; thermochemical processes such as pyrolysis and gasification and subsequent transformations. In particular it will describe the production processes of synthesis gas and the transformation in methanol, DME, FT diesel and hydrogen. Will be described the principles, types and operation of fuel cells and the most important technologies for the catalytic abatement of emissions from stationary and mobile sources. It will then deepened the processes for the production of chemicals from biomass integrating in the knowledge of the industrial chemistry processes and catalysis. The processes will be exposed emphasizing the chemistry, process technologies and environmental impacts through indicators such as the efficiency and atomic energy, the environmental quotient and greenhouse gas emissions. They will then describes the integration of the processes for the transformation of biomass in order to build a system approach. Finally, we present the principles and technologies of sustainable chemistry through catalytic processes.

Pre-required Knowledge:

Thermodynamic principles; chemical equilibrium, phase equilibrium, chemical kinetic.

Energy and mass balance, Process and separation unit, most common reactor for industrial processes.

Structure and reactivity of sugars, esters and main organic functional group. Other reduction and oxidation reactions.

Fossil fuels characteristics and uses; Main industrial processes, the catalytic processes of oxidation, hydrogenation, dehydrogenation and acid/base catalysed. The structure of process through flow sheet description and the difference between continuous and batch process and between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis.


G. Centi, R.A. Van Santer. Catalysis for Renewables: From Feedstock to Energy Production. WEINHEIM: WILEY-VCH.

J.J. Spivey, K.M. Dooley. Catalysis, a review of recent literature, RSC Publishing

J. Dewulf and H Van Lngenhove.Renewable Based Technologies: Sustainability Assesment. Joho Wiley and Sons

F. Cavani, G. Centi, S. Perathoner and F. Trifirò. Sustainable Industrial Chemistry, Principle tools and Industrial example, Wiley-VCH, 2009.

F. Cavani, S. Albonetti, F. Basile and A. Gandini; "Chemical and Fuels from bio-based building block, WIley-VCH 2016

Teaching methods

The description of the processes will be an opportunity to deepen the transformation methodologies, principles, technologies and sustainability indicators. Through the use of the comparison between raw materials, technologies and processes are intended to make clear the approach, methodologies and guidelines for the development of sustainable processes. Use of industrial case studies.

Assessment methods

The assessment has the objective to verify the capability to describe the most important process from renewable source and analyse it and the technology used in terms of environmental characteristics, performances and impact. The assessment method will be based on oral examination at the end of the course: starting from a process outlined in the classroom will be assessed the student's ability to identify the chemical transformation related to the process, discuss the reactions involved and describe the basic flow sheet for the final product and then state the critical points and characteristics in terms of environmental impact or chemical hazard. It will also be required to place the process as part of the supply chain at which belongs and the critical points of the chain in terms of environmental impact and sustainability. This procedure is carried out to the processes of production of energy and fuels and processes related to the production of chemicals that will deal with different aspects of sustainability and environmental impact of chemical risk.

Teaching tools

The educational material presented in class will be made available to the student in electronic format in the internet on:: http://campus.unibo.it/ -

Office hours

See the website of Nikolaos Dimitratos

See the website of Andrea Fasolini