R&D Matching Grant: 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 in Executive Order 13134 (1999). In 2005, the President signed an energy bill containing significant emphasis on renewable energy efforts. In Kentucky, the 2005 Kentucky Comprehensive Energy Strategy also contains a significant emphasis on renewable energy. 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 ultimate production of fuels and high value chemicals. To date, the upgrading ofbio-oil has been achieved using hydrotreating, which requires large volumes of hydrogen, resulting in unfavorable process economics, or cracking, which represents a more economically attractive option. However, difficulties encountered in the use of acid cracking catalysts such as H-ZSM-5 include high yields of (low value) gaseous hydrocarbons and the occurrence of coke formation, resulting in rapid catalyst deactivation (as a consequence of the high polymerization activity ofbio-derived pyrolysis oils). In view of the foregoing, there is a clear need for a low severity method for bio-oil deoxygenation. This collaborative effort between the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department and the Center for Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky will examine two alternative concepts aimed catalytic deoxygenation ofbio-oil to a stabilized product, utilizing mild cracking over base catalysts and metal-catalyzed deoxygenation. Kentucky's abundance of natural resources, including forestry wastes and agricultural residues, offers a vast resource of available biomass if utilized. As future production of chemicals, materials and fuels transitions to a biobased 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 date3/1/069/30/07


  • KY Office of Energy Policy: $27,302.00


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