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Press Release

Press Release

Doctoral thesis on a greener way to produce epoxides from vegetable oils

Tommaso Cogliano.
Tommaso Cogliano.


M.Sc. (Tech.) Tommaso Cogliano’s doctoral thesis in chemical and process engineering will be put forth for public defence at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Åbo Akademi University.

The thesis is entitled Vegetable Oils Epoxidation: from Batch to Continuous Process.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on 2 February 2024 at 1PM in Auditorium XXII, Agora, Vesilinnantie 3, Turku. Professor Stefan Haase, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft HTW-Dresden, Germany will serve as opponent and Academy Professor Tapio Salmi, Åbo Akademi University, as custos.


Epoxides are a class of compounds characterized by the oxirane functional group, a polar three-terms strain ring composed by two carbon atoms and an oxygen atom. These two properties make the oxirane ring a highly reactive moiety. For this reason, epoxides are important and valuable industrial building blocks for the synthesis of several organic compounds, e.g., di- or polyalcohols, lactones, β-hydroxesters, carbonates etc. In this scenario, Epoxidized Vegetable Oils (EVOs), which are obtained from renewable feedstock, represent noteworthy green platforms to produce chemicals and biomaterials. Epoxides originating from vegetable oils, as well as from derivates of vegetable oils, have already been successfully applied, among others, as plasticizers in the poly(vinyl-chloride) resins, partially replacing phthalates, as intermediates to produce polyurethane, representing an environmentally friendly route compared to the toxic isocyanate process, and as bio-lubricants. Thus, it is possible to understand the ongoing interest, in both academic and industrial research, to this class of value-added chemical compounds. Nevertheless, the industrial synthesis still relies on a semibatch technology, limiting the productivity and selectivity to this platform chemical.

The epoxidation via the Prilezhaev reaction method is the synthesis pathway studied in the present work to produce of epoxides from vegetable oils, both edible and not. The choice of studying this synthesis path is because it is the only one with relevant current industrial application in the epoxidation of this promising feedstock and, more importantly, it belongs to the category of green chemistry and green process technology. The reaction system is composed of two immiscible liquid phases and consecutive reactions take place in the two phases and at the interphase between them. The work was mainly focused on the study of the different reaction steps of the Prilezhaev reaction method in order to efficiently shift to a continuous operation. The epoxidation reaction via the Prilezhaev concept was successfully carried out in a continuous device obtaining satisfactory results in terms of conversion and selectivity adopting milder conditions than the semibatch process. 

Cogliano’s degree is an international double degree in cooperation with the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy. 


Tommaso Cogliano was born in 1993 in Italy. He can be reached by email tommaso.cogliano@abo.fi.

The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive. 

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.