Micro-pyrolyzer screening of hydrodeoxygenation catalysts for efficient conversion of straw-derived pyrolysis vapors

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Eschenbacher, Andreas
Saraeian, Alireza
Mentzel, Uffe
Jensen, Peter
Henriksen, Ulrik
Ahrenfeldt, Jesper
Jensen, Anker
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Shanks, Brent
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NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
Founded in 2008 with more than $44M in federal, industry, and Iowa State University funding, CBiRC works in tandem with Iowa and the nation’s growing biosciences sector. CBiRC’s goal is to lead the transformation of the chemical industry toward a future where chemicals derived from biomass resources will lead to the production of new bioproducts to meet evolving societal needs.
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Chemical and Biological Engineering

The function of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has been to prepare students for the study and application of chemistry in industry. This focus has included preparation for employment in various industries as well as the development, design, and operation of equipment and processes within industry.Through the CBE Department, Iowa State University is nationally recognized for its initiatives in bioinformatics, biomaterials, bioproducts, metabolic/tissue engineering, multiphase computational fluid dynamics, advanced polymeric materials and nanostructured materials.

The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1913 under the Department of Physics and Illuminating Engineering. From 1915 to 1931 it was jointly administered by the Divisions of Industrial Science and Engineering, and from 1931 onward it has been under the Division/College of Engineering. In 1928 it merged with Mining Engineering, and from 1973–1979 it merged with Nuclear Engineering. It became Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2005.

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1913 - present

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  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1913–1928)
  • Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering (1928–1957)
  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1957–1973, 1979–2005)
    • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (2005–present)

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Catalyst screening at micro-scale was performed for atmospheric hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of fast pyrolysis vapors from biomass (wheat straw). The performance of TiO2-supported Pt and MoO3 catalysts and ZrO2 and TiO2-supported WO3 catalysts was compared to industrial Mo- and NiMo based catalysts. In addition, the HDO activity of an industrial HZSM-5/γ-Al2O3 extrudate promoted by MoO3 was investigated. In comparison with unpromoted acidic catalysts such as HZSM-5/γ-Al2O3, decreased deactivation rates and coke yields were obtained with catalysts that are active in HDO. Mo-based catalysts showed a higher selectivity to aromatics compared to aliphatics, while vapor upgrading with Pt/TiO2 favored aliphatics, thereby achieving the highest effective hydrogen index of the non-condensed vapors amongst the tested catalysts. Bulk WO3 was active for deoxygenation (23% oxygen removal), albeit to a lesser extent compared to bulk MoO3 (37% oxygen removal). Compared at the same mass of bulk transition metal oxide, the TiO2-supported WO3 and MoO3 catalysts obtained nearly complete deoxygenation (86-96 % oxygen removal), again with the supported MoO3 being more active compared to supported WO3 catalyst.

For the production of renewable fuels and/or chemicals from biomass via HDO of pyrolysis vapors the catalyst cost directly influences the economy and sustainability of the process. Therefore, this study further investigated red mud, an abundantly produced industrial waste from aluminum industries, and bog iron as two low-cost transition metal catalysts that are rich in iron. These two catalysts were tested at 4 times higher loading (8 mg) than the high-performing catalysts (2 mg). Under these conditions, an oxygen removal of 51% and 61% at vapor carbon yields of 22 wt% C and 14 wt% C were obtained for bog iron and red mud, respectively. Both catalysts showed a high selectivity to monoaromatics and ketones. However, bog iron obtained a higher yield of ketones compared to red mud. In addition, phenolics were converted completely by red mud, indicating a higher activity compared to bog iron.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Eschenbacher, Andreas, Alireza Saraeian, Brent H. Shanks, Uffe Vie Mentzel, Peter Arendt Jensen, Ulrik Birk Henriksen, Jesper Ahrenfeldt, and Anker Degn Jensen. "Micro-pyrolyzer screening of hydrodeoxygenation catalysts for efficient conversion of straw-derived pyrolysis vapors." Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (2020): 104868. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaap.2020.104868. Posted with permission.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020