Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tunable high-yield catalytic approach converts pyrolysis oil to bio-hydrocarbon chemical feedstocks including fuel additives
By Green Car Congress on 11/26/2010 – 7:30 am PST

Researchers at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with colleagues from Southeast University (China) and University of Nottingham (UK), have developed an integrated catalytic approach that combines hydroprocessing with zeolite catalysts to convert pyrolysis bio-oils into industrial commodity chemical feedstocks, including C2 to C6 monohydric alcohols and diols, C6 to C8 aromatic hydrocarbons, and C2 to C4 olefins with more than 60% overall carbon yields. A paper on the work led by Dr. George Huber was published in the 26 November issue of the journal Science.

Pyrolysis bio-oils are produced by the thermal decomposition of biomass by heating in the absence of oxygen at more than 500 °C; fast pyrolysis of biomass is much less expensive than biomass conversion technologies based on gasification or fermentation processes. However, the resulting bio-oils are typically high in oxygen, water, solids and acids. As a result, there is high interest in cost-effective pathways for the upgrading of bio-oils to more useful transportation fuel or commodity chemical components. (E.g., earlier post.)

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