Saturday, March 12, 2022

Spotlight on Tsutomu Chida, recipient of the 2022 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Award

We are delighted to announce that Tsutomu Chida is the recipient of the 2022 Industrial Oil Products Division Student Award. This award recognizes graduate students presenting an outstanding oral or poster presentation within the Industrial Oil Products technical program at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

About Tsutomu Chida

Tsutomu Chida

Tsutomu Chida is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tohoku University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Ichinoseki College, and a master’s degree in engineering from Tohoku University. 

He joined the Reaction Process Engineering Laboratory supervised by Professor Naomi Shibasaki-Kitakawa since he started his master’s program in 2019. His research interests include oxidation, reaction kinetics and kinetic model analysis. His research is focused on efficient biomass conversion into high value-added chemicals. He has authored and co-authored two research articles in peer-reviewed journal, including the Journal of American Oil Chemists’ Society. He has presented his research at every AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo since 2020 and was an invited speaker at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo

Can you tell us about your current research?

My research is focused on process design for efficient production of glycerol into high-value chemicals. There is an urgent need to develop effective methods to use glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production, by converting it into high-value chemicals. The by-product glycerol is contaminated with strong alkaline as a catalyst, and the environmental loads of the purification process to remove the contaminants has been a bottleneck to its utilization. 

One of the effective ways to solve this problem is the selective oxidation into glyceric acid (GA), which can be used as a pharmaceutical raw material. This reaction proceeds using Au catalyst under alkaline conditions. However, the GA yield is low because many side reactions proceed simultaneously. To construct a practical process for efficient GA production, it is necessary to both experimentally analyze the reaction mechanism, including the active species that are key to the target reaction, and to develop a kinetic model that can quantitatively predict the reaction behavior under a wide range of conditions. 

The actual GA formation behavior proceeds by a comprehensive mechanism. Therefore, in order to construct a simple mathematical model with high prediction accuracy and versatility, it is necessary to clarify which steps dominate the formation behavior and select the essential reactions involved in the GA formation. In my research, by combining both in a well-balanced manner, I have succeeded in appropriately finding and modeling essential reactions that serve as bottlenecks in a complex reaction network. Furthermore, the kinetic model has been enabled to seamlessly predict appropriate conditions for efficient GA productions.

What was your reaction when you learned you had won the award?

I was very surprised since this is the first time a Japanese student has won this award. I am proud and honored to win this award. I am grateful to AOCS community and organization.

How has AOCS helped develop your career?

AOCS provides the opportunity to share my research and to connect with many experts around the world. These are very essential to developing my career in the field of oil chemistry.

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