Upgrading Biomass Pyrolysis Bio-oil to Renewable Fuels
Upgrading Biomass Pyrolysis Bio-oil to Renewable Fuels
University of Idaho
David N. McIlroy, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Physics
PI Contact Information
Funding Sources and Amounts Provided
US Department of Transportation/TranLIVE $55,000
University of Idaho $55,000
Total Project Cost
Agency ID or Contract Number
Description of Research Project
More than 3 million tons/yr of woody biomass is available in the Pacific Northwest alone. This level of biomass can theoretically produce 5 million barrels/yr of pyrolysis bio-oils. Mobile pyrolysis units can utilize biomass through conversion to bio-oil, reducing transport volumes by >70%, which can increase supply chain efficiencies and decrease transport costs by 30%. Therefore, there is a need to produce renewable fuels regionally from biomass sources.
We will use nanospring-supported catalytic surface for the catalytic hydrogenation of biomass-derived pyrolysis bio-oil into renewable diesel. The advantage of using nanosprings is that significantly less catalyst is needed to obtain equivalent yields. In addition, nanosprings provide a platform upon which one can engineer the catalyst at a level beyond traditional methods. We will achieve our goals by:
- Preparation, catalyst activation and chemical characterization of nanospring-catalysts.
- Assess the activated nanospring catalysts for hydrogenation of woody biomass pyrolysis bio-oil and compare performance with conventional catalysts.
- Evaluation of the upgraded bio-oil as a renewable diesel fuel.
Implementation of Research Outcomes
This completed project supported a PhD student (Alex Fouetio Kengne) and a MS student (Yinglei Han) to completion of their degrees. Alex was working on nanospring development, catalyst surface analysis and catalyst activation studies. This was a critical step in making nanocatalysts. Yinglei was researching the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reaction of woody biomass pyrolysis bio-oils and model compounds (e.g. phenol).
Fast pyrolysis is a process that can convert woody biomass to a crude bio-oil (pyrolysis oil). However, some of these compounds contribute to bio-oil shelf life instability and difficulty in refining. Catalytic HDO of the bio-oil can upgrade the bio-oil into transportation fuels. Therefore, nickel (Ni) and ruthenium (Ru) catalysts supporting on a novel nanomaterial, silica nanospring (NS) showed the best performance for HDO of phenol. In terms of bio-oil hydrotreatment, the bio-oil was fractionated by phase separation by addition of water to obtain a water-insoluble (WIS) and water-soluble (WS) fractions from the bio-oil. The WS of bio-oil can be upgraded into cycloalkanes of 30% wt. and alcohols of 18% wt. over Ni(65%)/SiO2-Al2O3 and Ni-NS catalysts. The WIS of bio-oil had been effectively cracked in methanol over Ni(65%)/SiO2-Al2O3 catalyst. A further step of HDO on the cracked oil had successfully deoxygenated the phenolics into cycloalkanes using the Ni-NS catalyst.
Impacts and Benefits of the Project
The benefits of this project are to develop “drop-in” renewable diesel from biomass in order to secure energy independence for the U.S. The relevance of this project to the region and the U.S. is the application of our results to produce liquid fuels for ground transportation from forest and agricultural residues with a neutral/minimal carbon footprint, offsetting the use of petroleum-based fuels. The project will advance catalyst materials discovery and chemical conversion technologies, while promoting scientific networking, teaching, training, and learning. This project will be instrumental in pushing new processes and technologies that upgrade biomass residues and waste to products.
Poster: Armando McDonald, Randy Brooks, Mark Coleman (2014) “Utilization of Forest Biomass through Mobile Fast Pyrolysis” presented at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources-Mobile Pyrolysis Demonstration, at Bingen, WA, May 8-9.
- Alexis Fouetio Kengne (2014) “Surface Chemistry of Hierarchical Nanosprings for Sensing and Catalysis” Ph.D dissertation, University of Idaho, Moscow ID, December.
- Yinglei Han (2014) “Upgrading of Pyrolysis Bio-oil to Renewable Fuels by Hydrodeoxygenation”, M.S. thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow ID, December.
- Alexis Fouetio Kengne, David McIlroy, Armando McDonald (2014) “XPS Study of a Cobalt Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst Supported on Silica Nanosprings During Reduction” 56th Annual Meeting of the Idaho Academy of Science (IAS), Best Western Inn, Moscow ID, March 20.
- Alexis Fouetio Kengne, David McIlroy, Armando McDonald (2014) “XPS Study of a Cobalt Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst Supported on Silica Nanosprings During Reduction” Technical Research Exhibition (TRE), National Society Black Engineers (NSBE) National Convention, Convention Center, Nashville, TN March 27.
- Yinglei Han, Alexis Fouetio Kengne (2014) “Pyrolysis Bio-oil Upgrading to Renewable Fuels” NIATT Advisory Board Meeting, Best Western Inn, Moscow ID, April 30.
- Armando McDonald, Mark Coleman (2014) “Utilization of Forest Biomass through Mobile Fast Pyrolysis” presented at the Northwest Wood Energy Team Forum held in Stevenson, WA, May 7.
- Alexis Fouetio Kengne (2014) “Surface Chemistry of Hierarchical Nanosprings for Sensing and Catalysis” Ph.D defense, University of Idaho, Moscow ID, Sept. 11.
- Yinglei Han, Armando McDonald, David McIlroy (2014) “Upgrading wood pyrolysis oil by hydrogenation using nanocatalysts to green transportation fuels” 2014 International Union of Forest Research Organizations World Congress, Salt lake City, Oct. 6-10.
- Yinglei Han (2014) “Upgrading of Pyrolysis Bio-oil to Renewable Fuels by Hydrodeoxygenation”, M.S. defense, University of Idaho, Moscow ID, Nov. 24.
Final Report: UI_TranLIVE_FinalReport_BiooilUpgrading
- Renewable fuels