Thatcher W. Root
3008 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Ph: (608) 262-8999
Fax: (608) 262-1267
Chemical and Biological Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering,
Current projects all bring Green Chemistry interests to applications of catalysis, chemical kinetics, and reactor design to different fields
A collaboration with Prof. Klingenberg and C. Tim Scott of the USDA Forest Products Lab addresses the initial, upstream steps of processes to convert biomass to fuel or chemicals. Processing raw biomass in the form of corn stover, switchgrass, or other lignocellulosic materials begins with hydrothermal treatment or dilute acid hydrolysis in the NREL poster process, and continuous processes often encounter difficulties in sustaining flow of the input material without using large quantities of water. Energy considerations require use of feedstocks with high solids content. At levels of 10%-25% or more, these materials appear dry and are very non-ideal in flow, exhibiting yield-stress behavior. We are studying the rheological properties of biomass and how they vary with solids content and processing history (time, temperature, and acid content) in the early stages of fractionating lignocellulosic materialis for later processing. This project has developed several novel rheometer/reactors applicable to these unusual materials.
Catalysts for Aerobic Partial Oxidations
Energy Storage Strategies for Concentrating Solar Power Processes
One promising aspect of concentrating solar power (CSP) involves thermal energy storage for use of the solar energy to generate electricity at other peak demand times. This project is part of a larger collaboration with Prof. Christos Maravelias and Solar Energy Lab (Mechanical Engineering) Profs. Sandy Klein and Franklin Miller investigating opportunities for improving efficiency and cost structure of CSP alternatives.