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Project number:  22-123
Financing:  Governmental budget - Ministerul Educatiei, Cercetarii si Tineretului, Programul 4 - PARTENERIATE IN DOMENIILE PRIORITARE
Project budget (including other sources):  2.005.000 lei
Contract budget (only governmental source):  2.000.000 lei
Contract period:  2008 - 2011
Contracting Authority:  National Center of Programme Management (CNMP)
Coordinator:  National Institute of Research and Development for Chemistry and Petrochemistry-ICECHIM


Nowadays one of the major threats to confront our world is related to energy supply. Oil and natural gas will soon be exhausted, energy renewable resources are still at the beginning, nuclear energy is considered to be rather hazardous and coal based power stations, in spite of representing a viable solution for the next hundred years, are generating environment problems. Local and international regulations in order to limit worldwide environmental pollution were adopted. This objective might be accomplished by developing new modern technologies which are, on their turn, strictly depending on new, high performance materials. Atmosphere is continuously polluted by anthropogenic activities, especially due to energy production by burning fossil fuels, which release into air huge quantities of powder (ash dust) as well as greenhouse gases (CO2) or toxic gases (SO2, NOx, volatile organic compounds-VOC). The problems that inhabitants living around thermo-power plants are facing with are well known. Hot gases streams filtration and catalytic conversion of their toxic components, became more difficult to carry out, due to their high temperature, which requires thermo-resistant materials.

The main objective of this project is to obtain new thermo-resistant materials (ceramic foams) dedicated to promote technologies for energy production with reduced air pollution, designated to thermo- power plants, like coal-based stations, as well as to elaborate new technologies for filtration and ultra-filtration of solid suspensions from gases and catalytic treatment.

Worldwide, a variety of general approaches for producing ceramic foams are known, out of which we have selected the polymer gel casting method, involving a polymer gel intermediate, which will provide best quality foams: homogeneous porosity, high mechanical strength, high permeability and low thermal conductivity. Our own original contribution in order to improve the above mentioned method consists in inserting polymeric nanocomposites in gel, while the surfactant will be a monomer.

The current project proposes designing and developing of several technologies, based on the following steps:
    1.  preparation of nano-porous inorganic oxides (mainly mesoporous silica) and nanopowders (alumina, zirconium, etc);
    2.  preparation of aqueous suspension of inorganic oxides (clay slip) by mixing alumina and/or zirconia with recovered oxides from serpentinite;
    3.  preparation of a polymeric nanocomposite using vinyl monomers polymerization in aqueous suspension of oxides (clay slip) in order to obtain a gel, so that the inorganic material to take the shape imprinted by the polymer matrix;
    4.  drying, calcination and sintering of organic-inorganic hybrid nanocomposite gel, in which polymeric material burning takes place, so that a ceramic cellular structure, solid foam type, to be obtained;
    5.  using the resulted ceramic foams in filtration and ultra-filtration processing of gas streams and separation of solid suspended matters;
    6.  impregnation of ceramic foams with active catalytic compounds in order to obtain catalysts;
    7.  using ceramic foams supported catalysts for some gaseous pollutants conversion.

The project results will have double effect upon environment, both providing green energy production from fossil fuels and reclaiming natural resources such as serpentenite (magnesium silicate) available in dumps from Portile de Fier Natural Park. Implementation of the researched technology by the SME companies will increase competitiveness of Romanian products on European market, and will also increase production output, with several important social effects like: decreasing of unemployment and increasing of labor force income. In the same time, solving environment problems caused by thermo-power plants activity will bring positive impact upon health of the inhabitants living around them.

The proposed project is absolutely new and innovative in our country, due to the preparation receipt of ceramic foam using gel-casting polymerization, due to selection of monomers and porous inorganic oxides, due to the parameters of mixing, polymerization, drying, calcination and sintering, due to resulted structures with tailored volume and pore size distribution, due to new achieved catalytic active porous structures and due to novel applying technologies. The worldwide novelty and innovation arise from the fact that monomer surfactants will be involved as co-monomers and the resulted gels will be polymeric nanocomposites, which will provide control of pore size dimension and porosity fraction. The original elements will be patent covered.