Research talent in projects for the use of plastic waste

Dr. Marta Muñoz, a researcher in the Materials Science area, is currently mentoring two postdoctoral researchers awarded grants by the EU Horizon 2020 program, under the Got Energy Talent – Marie Sklodowka Curie Action program.

Irene Vega

The research work, directed by Dr. Marta Muñoz Hernández, develops a novel perspective never before realized for the use of plastic waste in the production of liquid fuels. The proposal combines an interdisciplinary approach from various areas such as materials engineering, chemical engineering, electromagnetism and nanotechnology.

Dr. Muñoz Hernández began to develop the idea for this project in 2018 during her research stay at the Higher Technical Institute of Lisbon. Since then, it has collaborated internationally with prestigious universities such as the University of Warwick (London), the Sorbonne (Paris) and the Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon).

In addition, to carry out this ambitious project, the URJC Materials Science researcher has in her team two young talents from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, Got Energy Talent – Marie Sklodowka Curie Action: Dr. Sabino Armenise and Dr. Syie Luing Wong.

During the first year of his fellowship, Dr. Sabino Armenise has developed his research work within the URJC’s Materials Science and Engineering research group (CIM) and has successfully completed a short research stay at the University of the Sorbonne, developing new catalysts and meso-cellular materials as catalytic supports, within the framework of its project ‘The synthesis and characterization of zeolites with hierarchical structures and magnetic nanoparticles’. Currently, Dr. Armenise is carrying out his research work at the facilities of the CEPSA Research Center, in which, together with experts in the refining area, they test and analyze various catalytic materials from multiple approaches.

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For his part, Dr. Wong Syie Luing has been working in the Department of Applied Mathematics, Materials Science and Engineering and Electronic Technology of the URJC since October 2020. He is currently also doing a research stay at the University of Warwick, where it intends to advance in the development of more efficient reactors, within its research project ‘The design and construction of a laboratory-scale magnetic reactor capable of working under catalytic hydrocracking conditions’.

“Both research projects are an effort and commitment of the Rey Juan Carlos University and Cepsa, framed in the policy of recircularity of plastic materials of the European Union”, highlights Dr. Muñoz Hernández. The raw material used initially for this project is one of the most abundant plastic waste, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for its recovery in liquid fuel. To do this, as the researcher points out: “it is necessary to overcome a series of scientific and technical challenges that mark two fundamental lines of work and are in turn part of the two postdoctoral projects funded by Got Energy Talent”.

The results obtained so far show that this novel technology for the conversion of plastic waste could transform the traditional heating processes at an industrial level, into others that are more energy efficient and with a lower impact on the carbon footprint, allowing us to achieve a more sustainable world.

From left to right: Dr. Wong Syie Luing, Dr. Marta Muñoz Hernández and Dr. Sabino Armenise

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