Towards a greener industry thanks to chemical looping processes

(20-10-2022) In his PhD, Varun Singh investigates how industrial CO2 emissions can be reduced by combining chemical looping processes and making them more efficient.

Energy-intensive industries such as steel and hydrogen gas (H2) production cause more than 10% of global CO2 emissions. These industries are considered difficult to decarbonize and applying techniques to reduce their emissions is associated with a sharp increase in production costs. For example, capturing CO2 from the steel industry using proven CO2 capture technologies can increase the price of steel by 22%. Similarly, producing H2 from green power costs 3 to 6 times more than conventional H2 production under current conditions.

"Chemical looping processes are an emerging class of technology that can dramatically reduce the cost of CO2 capture, CO2 utilization and H2 production," Varun says.

"In this process, CO2 is brought into contact with a solid material to which the CO2 attaches and thus, becomes part of the solid. Then the captured CO2 can be released back into a purer form. In another form of this process, the solid material can accept and donate oxygen atoms. Such a solid can convert the captured CO2 into CO, which facilitates the production of several products used in daily life from CO2." he explains.

"In my research, I combined different types of chemical looping processes to enable energy-efficient and cost-effective CO2 capture, CO2 utilization and H2 production" he continues.

"My findings show that combined chemical cycling processes can not only play a role in reducing carbon emissions, but also allow CO2 to be used for carbon-based products," he concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: Combined Chemical Looping for CO2 Emissions Reduction in Energy-Intensive Industries


Varun Singh

Varun Singh was born in Mumbai, India. He obtained his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Mumbai in India and his master's degree in chemical and bioengineering from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in Germany. During his stay in Germany, he worked at carbon clean tech AG, a start-up company near Berlin in Germany. There he proposed several process engineering solutions to optimise carbon black production via pyrolysis of end-of-life rubber tyres and increase the energy efficiency of the plant. He then moved to Copenhagen, Denmark to perform research work for his master's thesis on the total catalytic oxidation of methane emissions from ship engines at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) under the supervision of Prof. Anker Degn Jensen. Thereafter, he worked on hierarchical carbonaceous materials for electrocatalytic applications at FAU under the supervision of Prof. Wilhelm Schwieger. This work resulted in one A1 publication.

For his PhD, he moved in September 2017 to the Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT) at Ghent University to work on combined chemical looping processes under the supervision of Prof. Vladimir Galvita and Prof. Mark Saeys. So far, his work has resulted in two patented processes, four A1 publications as the first author, and one A1 publication as co-author. During his PhD, he taught the practical aspects of the course "Surface phenomena and catalysis" to bachelor's students and coached them for their final year inter-disciplinary projects. He has also successfully coached five master's students for their final year thesis.

Contact: Varun Singh, Vladimir Galvita, Mark Saeys


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke