It has campuses over the three provinces of the autonomous community: Biscay Campus (in Leioa, Bilbao, Portugalete and Barakaldo), Gipuzkoa Campus (in San Sebastián and Eibar), and Álava Campus in Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is the main research institution in the Basque Country, carrying out 90% of the basic research made in that territory and taking advantage of the good industrial environment that the region constitutes.
The University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Paraffins to cut energy consumption in homes – September 25, 2014
- Power consumption of robot joints could be 40% less, according to a laboratory study – July 6, 2014
- Sopcawind, a multidisciplinary tool for designing wind farms
- Defective nanotubes turned into light emitters
- Polymer regenerates all by itself
A research group of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has made progress in obtaining bio-oils and raw materials from biomass using its patented reactor
The UPV/EHU’s Catalytic Processes for Waste Valorisation research group is working on various lines of research relating to renewable energies, one of which corresponds to the obtaining of bio-oils or synthetic petroleum using biomass. In a paper recently published in the scientific journal Fuel, the researchers have proposed using artificial neural networks to determine the heating power of each type of biomass using its composition as it is a highly irregular material.
Biomass is one of the main sources of energy and heat in the field of renewable energy production: it is any type of non-fossil organic matter, such as living plants, timber, agricultural and livestock waste, wastewater, solid urban organic waste, etc. The three most developed technologies for obtaining energy from biomass are as follows: pyrolysis (decomposition by heating in the absence of oxygen), gasification (reaction with air, oxygen or a blend of both and conversion into gas) and combustion (decomposition through heating with oxygen). The effectiveness and emission levels of these three processes change depending on the composition of the biomass as well as its properties, the experimental conditions and equipment used.
In collaboration with researchers at the University of Sao Carlos in Brazil and within the framework of a European project, members of the UPV/EHU’s Catalytic Processes for Waste Valorisation research group analysed the process to set up a refinery to obtain bio-oils or synthetic petroleum using biomass. Since “afterwards, using the bio-oil produced it is possible to obtain the same products that are obtained from petroleum; hydrogen as well as any other compound,” explained Martin Olazar, project leader and professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering. The reactor developed and patented by this research group, the conical spouted bed reactor, is highly suited to this process because it is suitable for handling irregular, sticky materials —biomass is a highly irregular material and difficult to handle using conventional technologies—.
Artificial neural networks to determine gross calorific value
In the design of the process to obtain bio-oils using biomass, certain variables need to be determined: the temperature that needs to be achieved, how this temperature is to be achieved, how much fuel (in this case how much biomass) needs to be burnt, etc. The gross calorific value is a key parameter in determining all these data: it is the heat (energy) that is released when a certain quantity of fuel is completely burnt. This parameter is essential in the analysis, design and improvement in biomass pyrolysis, gasification and combustion systems. The correlations existing in the literature give highly variable results depending on each type of biomass and its properties. So the researchers in the group are proposing that artificial neural networks be used to calculate this; they have proven empirically that the system gives very good results and they have reported on them in a paper recently published in the scientific journal Fuel.
Ultra-long, one-dimensional carbon chains are synthesised for the first time
Researchers involved in an international study, in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated, have stabilised chains of more than 6,400 carbon atoms using double-walled nanotubes.
In a study, in which researchers in the UPV/EHU’s Nano-Bio Spectroscopy Group led by Ángel Rubio have participated, a new route has been developed to produce carbyne (infinitely long carbon chains whose mechanical properties surpass those of diamond and graphene) by using double-walled carbon nanotubes to protect the carbon chain due to its extreme instability in ambient conditions. The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature Materials.
Elemental carbon appears in many different forms, some of which are very well-known and have been thoroughly studied: diamond, graphite, graphene, fullerenes, nanotubes and carbyne. Within this “carbon family”, carbyne (a truly one-dimensional carbon structure) is the only one that has not been synthesised until now, despite having been studied for more than 50 years. Organic chemists across the world had been trying to synthesise increasingly longer carbyne chains by using stabilizing agents; the longest chain obtained so far (achieved in 2010) was 44 carbon atoms.
A research group at the University of Vienna, led by Prof Thomas Pichler, has presented a new, simple means for stabilising carbon chains with a record-breaking length of over 6,400 carbon atoms. They have thus broken the previous record by more than two orders of magnitude. To do this, they used the confined space inside a double-walled carbon nanotube as a nano-reactor to make the ultra-long carbon chains grow and also to provide the chains with great stability. This stability is tremendously important for future applications.