A new technology developed at UFRN has been applied to improve oil refining
A material with distinctive properties for use in the petrochemical and fine chemical industry, developed by UFRN researchers in the field of chemistry and materials science, received in March recognition by the National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) as an unprecedented technology, the university reported.
The product, as a result of the invention, was named by inventors Sibele Berenice Castellã Pergher, Yuri Miguel Variani and Alejandro Eusebio Rojas Nuñez as LPM-5, a name that refers to the Laboratory of Molecular Sieves, the place where the research took place, and the number five in reference to the fifth substance that The group developed it and patented it.
LPM-5 is a zeolite, a porous material with channels and cavities of molecular dimensions, with different properties and applications derived from its great versatility and structural composition. This composition can be modified – it was precisely through the change that the three scientists expanded the possibility of using the substance.
“Zeolites, because they have a well-defined porous structural network, are molecular sieves, that can select molecules according to their size, and this can be used for different separation and adsorption processes. In the case of this patent being granted, we have introduced titanium into the lattice and thus expanded the catalysis applications, with the fact that Titanium is the active site,” Sibel Berger explains. The substance is added using a specific organic compound based on imidazoles. The choice of the organic compound to be used is critical for targeting one structure or another and controlling the incorporation of other elements into the zeolitic lattice, a situation indicating the potential uses of the products that can be obtained.
These zeolite materials have the main advantage of selectivity, that is, the ability to separate molecules through molecular sifting. This possibility occurs due to the regular pore sizes of the materials. In addition, these materials have a high surface area that makes them attractive materials for use as absorbents and catalysts. One of the most widespread uses of zeolite is as a catalyst in petroleum refining, specifically by “sieving” different reaction molecules or products, thus obtaining compounds with greater added value.
However, the range of applications is quite wide, particularly in industry: removal of heavy metals in the treatment of polluted effluents, purification and separation of gaseous compounds, deactivation of toxic or radioactive heavy metals from soil, and conversion of substances contained in natural gas (methane, ethane and propane, for example). example) in aromatic compounds and with fertilizers.
Berger notes that the LPM-5 product has significant added value due to the fact that the introduction of titanium into the structure amplified the catalytic properties in the oxidation of alkanes (chemicals obtained mainly from petroleum refining and natural gas processing) and in the epoxidation of olefins and phenol hydroxyl, which are Important processes are the changes in the properties of these materials as a result of the physical and chemical processes that are carried out during refining.
“In the lab, we are constantly developing and patenting new products, so this is not the first grant we receive. These studies have provided a great deal of knowledge in terms of understanding the synthesis of zeolitic materials. Thus, we are striving again and again to test different applications, while at the same time , increasing studies aimed at scaling up the process, so that it can be used industrially,” noted the Molecular Sieve Laboratory coordinator.
Named “Process for obtaining LPM-5 zeolites, titanosilicates with STF topology, using imidazolium ring-based organic cations as structure guiding agents”, the patent is the result of Yuri Variani’s Master’s thesis for the Postgraduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering at UFRN.
Now with a 53-character patent, UFRN is the leading university in the North and Northeast in this regard, ahead of institutions with a general course index similar to its own, such as the University of Brasilia, the Federal University of Ceará, the Federal University of Pernambuco and the Federal University of Bahia. In addition to looking at the positive development of this number in recent years, doubling in two years, UFRN Innovation Agency Director Daniel de Lima Pontes emphasized that the franchise has an academic and social scope.
“The granting of a patent is one of the ways of validating the scientific and technological production of the Academy in certain fields of knowledge, which shows that a particular product or process can have practical application for the benefit of society. In this way, in addition to achieving legal certainty for the inventor or group of inventors, The patent supports the innovative character and the university’s commitment to social and economic development,” the director said.
Within the Foundation, guidance and clarifications regarding aspects of a particular patent are provided at the Agency for Innovation (AGIR), a unit created in 2007, initially as the Technology Innovation Core (NIT). Among its powers, the Innovation Agency is responsible for managing intellectual property, technology transfer and innovation-promoting environments in the UFRN, monitoring and stimulating, for example, the activities of university incubators, as well as the activities of technology parks and centers.