As soon as I heard the BRISK2 project was back, I started planning my application for its first call. I took part in the first BRISK project, being a really interesting opportunity to visit and meet other institutions and researchers. It establishes the share of knowledge and the starting point for future collaborations and opportunities. Then, I could not let pass this lucky chance.
At this time, I am interested in the catalytic activity of different bed materials I had been using during my PhD thesis for fluidized bed biomass gasification. Looking at the partners’ facilities, I found VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland had the perfect facility, equipments and knowledge to carry out my experimental plan. I first contacted Sanna Tuomi to express my wish to visit their facilities for catalysts testing and work there under a detailed experimental plan: test the catalytic activity of sepiolite and palygorskyte under different temperatures, using a synthetic gasification gas with a certain amount of tars. Sanna introduced me to Noora Kaisalo and we three started soon to discuss the details of the experimental plan. Once everything was clear I proceed with the application submission which was accepted by the evaluation panel.
At my arrival to VTT, Noora introduced me to the catalysis team members and I started to work in the pressurized plug flow reactor with Mari-Leena Koskinen-Soivi and Petri Hietula. After an introductory safety training, we started to prepare the facility for the experiments with the packaging of the sepiolite for the first run. Once all the equipment was checked the catalytic activity of sepiolite started for 700, 850, 600, 700 and 350 ºC during two hours for each set point. The plan was changed a bit on the way and a new higher temperature (950 ºC) was tested as low temperatures (700 ºC) did not produce any effect in the exit gas. Surprisingly, I did not experience any experimental problem and everything went very smoothly as planned. Finally, we could test five different temperatures for each bed material and run two 24h test at 850 ºC with sepiolite and palygorskyte. A preliminary analysis of the results shows some activity of both sepiolite and palygorskyte at 850 and 950 ºC. Benzene concentration increases after passing through the bed while toluene and naphthalene decreases, appearing also some light hydrocarbons. This trend is much more influenced with the temperature.
I am very satisfied with this experience at VTT, both professionally and personally. I really appreciate the interest of all the members of the catalysis team, headed by Dr. Pekka Simell, in my work and the kind reception they offered me, treating me as a part of their team. I would like to thank Noora for her help during my stay and also Sanna who have always answered my queries very efficiently and they had no objection to change the dates of my visit as I requested. I am very grateful to all the personnel in the lab, particularly to Mari-Leena, because all their knowledge in the experimental issues, answering all my curiosities, and for driving me to Bioruukki to show me the gasification and pyrolysis facilities and meet Sanna. Thank you for all the useful advices in the catalysis field. I recommend anyone VTT, and especially this team if interested in the catalysis field. I will always remember the sauna experience and the nice talks about our houses projects or the northern lights during the early lunch time and coffee breaks. I will try to obtain another chance to visit VTT and meet you again in future.