Fluidization and Multiphase Systems, CO2 Mitigation & Capture, Bio-Fuels, Data Analysis
Professor
Senior Research Director, Carbon Capture and Conversion Institute
Office:
CHBE 227
Education
UBC, 2003, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering
Western University, 1993, M.E.Sc. Chemical Engineering
University of Waterloo, 1991, B.Sc., Honours, Chemistry
Research Interests

Multiphase Systems and Reaction Engineering
Understanding the hydrodynamics of fluidized beds is critical to the design and scaling of fluidized bed reactors which are used as various reactors. This research deploys various measurement techniques and modeling methods to study and predict the behaviour of fluidized beds and other multiphase reactors. Most recently, a novel travelling fluidized bed was taken to various institutions in North America and Europe to collect hydrodynamic data using advanced measurement techniques. Data collected (publically available) should serve as a benchmark database for validation of FD and other models.

Chemical Looping Systems
One of the new applications of fluidized bed reactors is Chemical-Looping Combustion, CLC, which produces power by connecting two fluidized beds: a fuel reactor and an air reactor. In this configuration, air is never mixed with fuel. Instead, a metal oxide supplies the oxygen required for fuel combustion. It circulates in a loop, connecting the air reactor and fuel reactor. This novel configuration prevents NOx formation, and produces pure stream of steam and CO2, from which CO2 is separated without energy or economic penalty.

In another system, sorbent moves around the two interconnected fluidized fuel and reactor beds capturing CO2 in a gasification/carbonation cycle. Biomass gasifier with Calcium looping cycle can increase gas efficiencies and lead to negative carbon emissions.

Biomass Utilization
The thermochemical process of biomass can lead to generation of heat, electricity and/or biofuels. Biomass has the potential of to generate carbon-neutral energy. Current projects include biomass gasification with catalytic tar reduction; biomass pyrolysis; and utilization of pyrolysis products (bio-oil and biochar).

Bio-Oil Upgrading
Bio-oil produced from pyrolysis of biomass (such as wood and agricultural wastes) is emerging as an alternative source of sustainable energy for diesel engines, gas turbines, and heating applications, as well as for use as chemical feedstock. As a carbon-neutral energy source, bio-oil reduces reliance on fossil fuel, supports sustainable forest development, etc. However, high viscosity, high acidity, and high structural water content make bio-oil difficult to burn. We are exploring how to upgrade bio-oil through emulsification with biodiesel fuel, producing a clean, fast-burning source of energy.

Biochar Potential
One product of biomass pyrolysis, biochar, is currently sold as soil amendment. We are researching the application of biochar as catalysts and as electrodes for Electric Double Layer (EDL) applications, including electrosorption/desalination of wastewater, and possibly for supercapacitors.

Biodiesel Production
The Biodiesel Project at UBC explores the production of alternative fuel from locally-obtained waste and non-food grade cooking oil, using an alkali-catalyzed transesterification process. The production unit is housed in CHBE 536, and has the capacity to produce 60L of biodiesel per batch. Students from Engineers for a Sustainable World are involved in producing biodiesel to supply fuel to trucks on campus. A fuel station in the CHBE courtyard dispenses a biodiesel/diesel blend.

Sustainability Leadership and Environmental Literacy
In 2013/2014, The University Sustainability Initiative (USI) identified various ways of integrating sustainability into large first-year courses at UBC. Using the concept of “campus as a living lab”, UBC has a tremendous opportunity to engage students in sustainability-related issues and advance environmental literacy in higher education.

Publications

• Ellis, N., Masnadi, M.S., Roberts, D.G., Kochanek, M.A., Ilyushechkin, A.Y., “Mineral Matter Interactions during Co-pyrolysis of Coal and Biomass and their Impact on Intrinsic Char Co-gasification Reactivity”, Chemical Engineering Journal, 279, 402-408 (2015).
• Tebianian, S., Dubrawski, K., Ellis, N., Chaouki, J., Jafari, R., Cocco, R.A., Hays, R., Karri, S.B.R., Grace, J.R., “Investigation of Particle Velocity in FCC Gas-Fluidized Beds Based on Different Measurement Techniques”, Chem Eng Sci, 127, 310-322 (2015).
• Knight, A., Ellis, N., Grace, J.R., Lim, C.J., “CO2 Sorbent Attrition Testing for Fluidized Bed Systems”, Powder Technology, 266, 412-423 (2014).
• Saayman, J., Xu, M., Lim, C.J., Ellis, N., “Gas Leakage Between Reactors in a Dual Fluidized Bed Reactor System”, Powder Technology, 266, 196-202 (2014).
• Rahaman, M.S., Mavinic, D.S., Ellis, N., “Fluidization Characteristics of Struvite Crystals Recovered from Wastewater”, Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, 9, 137-149 (2014).
• Dehkhoda, A.M., Ellis, N., Gyenge, E., “Electrosorption on Activated Biochar: Effect of Thermo-Chemical Activation Treatment on the Electric Double Layer Capacitance”, Journal of Applied Electrochemistry, 44, 141-157 (2014).
• Masnadi, M.S., Habibi, R., Kopyscinski, J., Hill, J.M., Bi, X., Lim, C.J., Ellis, N., Grace, J.R., “Fuel Characterization and Co-pyrolysis Kinetics of Biomass and Fossil Fuels”, Fuel, 117, 1204-1214 (2014).
• Reaume, S.J., Ellis, N., “Use of Hydroisomerization to Reduce the Cloud Point of Saturated Fatty Acids and Methyl Esters used in Biodiesel Production”, Biomass & Bioenergy, 49, 188-196 (2013).
• Dubrawski, K., Tebianian, S., Bi, H.T., Chaouki, J., Ellis, N., Gerspacher, R., Jafari, R., Kantzas, A., Lim, C., Patience, G.S., Pugsley, T., Qi, M.Z., Zhu, J.X., Grace, J.R., “Traveling Column for Comparison of Invasive and Non-invasive Voidage Measurement Techniques”, Powder Technology, 235, 203-220 (2013).
• Dehkhoda, A.M., Ellis, N., “Biochar-based Catalyst for Simultaneous Reactions of Esterification and Transesterification”, Catalysis Today, 207, 86-92 (2013).
• Haddou, J.V.H., Ellis, N., Bi, X., Epstein, N., “Spouting Characteristics of SPF Wood Pellets”, Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 91(10), 808-813 (2012).
• Ellis, N., Yurteri, C.U., van Ommen, J.R., “Continuous Process to Deposit Nanoparticles onto Microparticles” Chemical Engineering Journal, 181-182, 798-805 (2012).
• Lee, S., Posarac, D., Ellis, N., “An Experimental Investigation of Biodiesel Synthesis from Waste Canola Oil Using Supercritical Methanol”, Fuel, 91(1), 229-237 (2012).
• Jiang, X., Zhong, Z., Ellis, N., Wang, Q., “Aging and Thermal Stability of the Mixed Product of the Ether-soluble Fraction of Bio-oil and Bio-diesel”, Chemical Engineering Technology, 34(5), 727-736 (2011).

APSC 100 Introduction to Engineering I
APSC 101 Introduction to Engineering II
CHBE 344 Unit Operations
CHBE 573 Environmental Engineering and Sustainability
CHBE 561 Particulate and Multiphase Systems
GLAB Consulting, Partner and Secretary General
UBC Sustainability Initiative, USI Teaching & Learning Fellow (2013 – 2016)
UBC APSC Sustainability Pathway Initiative , Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Leadership (2013-2014)
, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning on Graduate Supervision (2015)
Carbon Capture & Conversion Institute, Senior Research Director