The Applied Kinetics and Catalysis research group is located in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Barcelona. It is composed of research and teaching staff: professors and doctoral and graduate students.
Our history initiates around 1980 with kinetic and thermodynamic studies of catalized reactions in gas phase. Around 1990 we moved to the synthesis of ramified ethers in the liquid phase, and around 2000 we started to study linear ethers production. In 2005, oligomerization of linear and ramified olefins was also of our interest. And since 2015 we address the issue of biofuel production from biomass. Heterogeneous catalysys has always been involved in the studied systems.
Presently, our research is focussed on the study of chemical reactions in the liquid phase catalyzed by acidic ion exchange resins and zeolites. There is a wide spectrum of reactions under study, whose products are mainly used as additives in gasoline and diesel fuels. They include etherification reactions between different alcohols and olefins, alcohol dehydrations, and olefin oligomerization. Among others, obtained products are methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), di-n-pentyl ether (DNPE), di-n-hexyl ether (DNHE), di-n-octyl ether (DNOE), ethyl octyl ether (EOE), tert-amyl methyl ether (TAME), tert-amyl ethyl ether (TAEE), and dimers, trimers and tetramers of C4 to C6 olefins. More recently, the synthesis of biofuel additives for diesel from biomass is also faced.
Research studies include thermodynamics (determination of chemical equilibrium), kinetics (obtaining applied kinetic models that describe observed reaction rates) and catalysis (catalytic performance of the used catalysts to find the best catalyst for a given reaction, and to correlate physico-chemical and morphological catalyst properties with their catalytic behaviour). Both symple reaction systems, where one or two reactions are involved, and complex reaction networks, in which a large number of reactions take place simultaneously in a series-parallel scheme, are studied.
The staff of the Applied Kinetics and Catalysis group belongs to the teaching staff of the University of Barcelona. They form the Chemical Reaction Engineering group, which is a recognized teaching innovation group. Subjects taught include core and advanced courses of the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate and Master studies, and also in Chemistry, Biotechnology, and Food Science Undergraduate studies.