Process Engineering for Sustainable Systems Section
In this group physico-chemical and chemical thermodynamic principles, proces technology and methods of analytical chemistry are used in studies related to environmental problems. Research topics are: a. Physico-chemical treatment of process water, drinking water and wastewater and of solvent streams by the use of membrane processes. Currently mainly nanofiltration and pervaporation are studied (also in hybrid processes e.g. with distillation), using polymeric and ceramic membranes for the removal of organic components, ions, The aim is to obtain insight in the separation characteristics and mechanisms, their modelling and the development of applications in various processes. Process intensification by using membrane technology is also a point of attention. b. Metals in (solid) waste. Solidification of toxic metal containing waste and study of the leaching behaviour; leaching of metals from fly ash, blast furnace sludge, and separation of the metals from the leaching liquid; use of solid waste as secondary building material; treatment of bottom ashes of solid waste incinerators. Again, insight in the processes is aimed at, along with modelling and practical applications. c. Study of environmental pollution in Flanders (PCBs, VOC,..), mainly by the industry. Detection of environmental pollution: heavy metals , pesticides, halogenated hydrocarbons, are detected using I CP-MS, AAS, GC-MS, HPLC, FT-IR, The group of C. Creemers studies the physico-chemistry of solid surfaces. Attention shifts more and more from ideal towards more realistic surfaces: trapped surfaces, superstructures, nanostructures, supported catalysts, .... Apart from experimental research using LEIS (Low Energy Ion Scattering) on surface composition of alloys and semiconductors (segregation as a function of temperature) various surface phenomena (segregation, relaxation and reconstruction, order-disorder, phase separation... ) are modelled by Monte Carlo-simulations combined with semi-empirical energy models. These model studies often offer an explanation of, and a deeper insight in the experimentally observed catalytic and material phenomena.