KREC: Novel Catalytic Approaches for Bio-Oil Upgrading

Grants and Contracts Details


Biomass conversion to liquid products has the potential to reduce domestic dependence on imported petroleum crude used for the production of fuels and industrial chemicals. The realignment of the US chemical industry from petrochemical refining to a bio-refinery system was made a national goal by President Clinton in Executive Order 13134 (1999), subsequently followed by clearly defined goals for increasing the use of biomass derived feedstocks in industrial chemical production. In August of this year, the Energy Policy Act of2005 was signed into law, which includes a significant emphasis on renewable energy efforts. Kentucky's abundance of natural resources, including forestry wastes and agricultural residues, offers a vast resource of available biomass if utilized. In this context, we propose a research project aimed at addressing technical issues relating to catalyst-assisted stabilization of crude biomass-derived pyrolysis oils ("bio-oil"), for the production of fuels and high value chemicals. To date, the upgrading ofbio-oil has been achieved using cracking or hydrotreating. Given that hydrotreating requires large volumes of hydrogen, which significantly impairs process economics, cracking represents a more economically attractive option. However, difficulties encountered in the use of acid cracking catalysts such as H-ZSM-5 include (i) high yields of (low value) gaseous hydrocarbons, and (ii) the occurrence of coke formation, resulting in rapid catalyst deactivation. In view of the foregoing, there is a clear need for a low severity method for bio-oil deoxygenation. We propose to examine two alternative concepts aimed at catalytic deoxygenation ofbio-oil to a stabilized product, utilizing mild cracking over base catalysts and metal-catalyzed deoxygenation. As such, this project addresses the main technical barrier to achieving the objective of the Thermochemical Platform, this barrier having been identified as "reducing the cost and improving the quality of intermediates (such as pyrolysis oil and syngas), in order to make final products cost competitive with existing commercial commodities" (U.S. Department of Energy, 2005). As future production of chemicals, materials and fuels transitions to a bio-based industry, the development of a low severity method for bio-oil deoxygenation, as proposed in this project, would remove one of the technical and economic barriers to increased biomass utilization in Kentucky.
Effective start/end date1/1/069/30/07


  • University of Louisville: $101,083.00


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