Profile & Expertise

The University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) is a multi-disciplinary university and its activities embrace from basic research to technological development. A total of 17 R&D contracts were managed at UCLM under FP6 and there are 36 approved projects under FP7 and CIP, as well as 17 H2020 and 4 COSME granted projects, besides other European and international programs such as INTERREG, JPEN or COST, inter alia. Most of those projects are managed under the supervision of the European Projects Office and the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Office. Besides, the UCLM counts with several centers dedicated to applied research related with different industries; such as the Institute of Chemical and Environmental Technology (ITQUIMA), oriented to the Chemical Industry and the Environment and in which the work related to this project will be performed. An interesting point for the development of the project is the fact that ITQUIMA owns medium scale pilot plant facilities for polyurethane and polystyrene recycling (Figure 1), heterogeneous polymerization, wastewater treatments and spray drying. It is also worthy to point out that two of their laboratories (The laboratories of Occupational Health and Biofuels) are certified in the ISO 9011 and are accredited under the ISO 17025.

The UCLM group that participates in the project is the Separation and Polymerization Process (LaPSP) group, which is part of the Chemical Engineering Department. From their beginnings, the members of this research group have been involved in regional, national and European plans of Science and Technology, participating as coordinators (IP) or researchers in several projects of applied research (10 projects financed by the Spanish Government, 4 financed with FEDER funds, 4 financed with European funds, etc.). Several agreements and contracts with regional or national factories have been signed with companies such as Repsol, Forlasa, Hidrospal, Elcogas, Mayasa, Selquima, Promek, Enermes, Asintec, Acciona, Henkel, Huntmans, etc. The big amount of collaborations has facilitated the transfer of the research results and experience to the industrial field.

The above-mentioned facts have allowed the group to carry out an excellent applied investigation, endorsed by a growing number of scientific publications in international Journals of recognized prestige in the field of the Chemical Engineering and Polymers (more than 100 in the last 8 years) and to have an appropriate financial support. This way, an important scientific infrastructure has been acquired, what ensures to the research group enough means to develop its future research activity with guaranty and quality.

The research team involved in this project, is formed by 5 permanent members, one full professor, three associate professors, 1 assistant professor (all of them are PhDs) and 2 engineers contracted for the project period. The polyurethanes/polyols field, which is the project field, is one of the most relevant subjects of interest of the group. We are the Polyurethanes reference group in Spain for more than 20 years of the Spanish petrochemical company Repsol. Besides, the group took part as investigators in several International and national patents, one of them related to polyurethanes recycling. Two PhD thesis have been defended with honors in the polyurethane recycling field.

Regarding the supercritical fluid experience, our research group has carried out different studies on the synthesis and recycling of different plastic materials in scCO2 with more than 15 publications and 4 PhD theses defended in the field.

Other fields of interest of the research group are focused on different subjects related to polyols synthesis and functionalization, conventional ion exchange and adsorption applications to purify pharmaceutical and nutraceutical substances and the synthesis of microcapsules containing phase change materials (PCMs) and extractant agents.

Figure 1. Pilot plant for polyurethane chemolysis

Role in the project

The UCLM will participate mainly in the WP3 and WP4.

Regarding WP3, the UCLM is the leader of task 3.2 “Upscaling of preferred split phase chemolysis process”. The UCLM will upscale the PU chemolysis process from a lab scale of 400g to and intermediate scale (0.5-5 kg). For that purpose, lab set-ups with two to ten liters reactors and a pilot plant with 30 l capacity will be used. The target is to find the appropriate process parameters to reach a recovered polyol content and purity suitable for an economically viable chemolysis process. The pilot plant will be adapted considering the observations from lab experiments. The main points to address will be: glycolysis agent selection, foam feeding modus, reactor and stirrer design, stirring rate. UCLM will also collaborate in the chemolysis phases characterization and will send recovered polyol to REC for making lab scale foams.

Regarding WP4, UCLM will lead task 4.4 “Reprocessing of CAPU foams – foam to foam”. The CAPU foams will be reshaping using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2). Prior to the foaming experiments, the thermal behavior of the system (PU-scCO2, PU-scCO2-cosolvent) will be studied by means of high pressure DSC. Then, the reprocessing conditions (mainly temperature, pressure and co-solvent) will be studied.


Juan F. Rodríguez Romero

+34 926 295 300 Ext. 6345

Juan Francisco Rodríguez Romero

Dr. Juan Francisco Rodríguez is Full Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Head of the Institute of Chemical and Environmental Technology (ITQUIMA) from 2007. More than 180 scientific publications and 170 participations in congress validate the quality of his applied research work. He has participated in 4 EU projects, the last NANOLEAP into the program H2020. He has been the main responsible of more than 20 research projects funded by National and Regional institutions. He has been coordinator of the Polyurethanes reference group in Spain for a large petrochemical company more than 20 years. From lab to pilot plant scale, he has managed more than 100 research projects funded by private companies. He is also author of eight patents (national and EP). The development of microencapsulation process and the green synthesis of biomaterials in supercritical carbon dioxide are also between his research lines. He has received several national and international research awards and one regional distinction for the creation of the best “spin-off” in the region of La Mancha. Several large pilot plant facilities including one for the recycling of polyurethanes and other for polystyrene are now in operation in ITQUIMA under his supervision.

Ana María Borreguero Simón

Lecturer of the University of Castilla La Mancha (Spain) from November 2011. From the same university she received her Ph.D. with honour (cum laude) in May 2011 and her degree in Chemical Engineering also with honour (best academic record). Her research activities have been focused on the microencapsulation of phase change materials, on composite materials based on polyurethane foams and polymer functionalization by click chemistry and in polyurethane glycolysis. One European patent has been implemented in the microencapsulation field. A regional award to the best “spin-off” in the region have been obtained. She co-authored more than 30 research papers, more than 40 participations in international congresses and 2 book chapters. She has taken part in 9 research projects with European, National and Regional institutions. She has supervise a PhD thesis in the field of the polyurethane glycolysis.

María J. Ramos

Senior Lecturer of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Institute of Chemical and Environmental Technology. Ph.D. with honor (Cum Laude) by UCLM in 2006 in the catalysis field. Her research activities developed as a Senior Lecturer have been focused on different subjects related to polymer technology: flame retardant polyurethanes, design of drug delivery system, tailor polymers and glycolysis of polyurethane. In addition, she was involved in the research of biofuels from several vegetable oils, developing interesting works with several companies related to biodiesel. Recently, she has joined the group of supercritical fluids technology, carrying out polymer functionalization. She has participated in the development of a research patent in the flame-retardant polyurethane field.

She is co-author of more than 50 research papers. She has participated in more than 30 projects (national and regional financed, European projects and private company financed).

Mª Teresa Garcia Gonzalez.

Senior Lecturer of the University of Castilla-La Mancha. Polytechnic University School of Almaden (Spain). Ph.D. with honor (Sobresaliente Cum Laude) by UCLM in 2004. His research activities developed as a Senior Lecturer have been focused on different subjects: Supercritical Fluid Extraction (natural products, oil regeneration, drug delivery, continuous countercurrent extraction). The recycling of different plastic materials in scCO2 has been performed up to the pilot plant scale with successful results.

She is co-author of 45 research papers. She has been the main researcher of 4 projects with Regional institutions and private companies and she has participated as researcher of 20 projects financed by Spanish and European institutions (LIFE97/ENV/E/0002432- LIFE06 ENV/ES/PREP/03).

Irene Álvarez Lara

Irene Álvarez is a PhD student at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain. She graduated in Chemical Engineering at UCLM in 2013. In 2015 she obtained the Master in Chemical Engineering. Same year she started her predoctoral activity in the field of biodegradable polymers and supercritical fluids. Her research is focused in the development of new forms of drug release by using supercritical fluids in order to impregnate polymeric scaffolds. She has gained some experience in how the use of supercritical carbon dioxide could modify polymer’s characteristics such as its glass transition temperature or its internal structure.

Jesús del Amo León

Graduated in Chemistry Engineering with a major in Environmental Engineering, currently ending a Master’s Degree in Chemistry Engineering and working at the University of Castilla La Mancha, ITQUIMA, in an R&D project on Designing a Circular Polyurethane Economy. His end degree work was based on glycolysis process for the recycling of rigid polyurethane foams. The main objectives were to study the feasibility and optimization of the glycolysis process for rigid polyurethane foams, obtain the recovered polyol and characterize it in order to synthesize new rigid polyurethane foams, as well as, analyze the mechanical, thermal and structural properties of these new foams and compare them with commercial ones. Regarding his professional experience, he did practices during three months at the wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment stations in the municipality of Puertollano, Ciudad Real; and other three months practices in the company SIMA Ingenieria, S.L., civil engineering and environmental services, financed by INTERNSHIP-CYTEMA