Catalysts useful for biomass pyrolysis

Dirk Benedict, Boldor, Dorin

Boldor, Dorin; Hayes, Daniel
Patent Status: Issued
Issue Date: 7/3/2018
Patent Number: 10,010,881

Catalysts useful in transforming biomass to bio-oil are disclosed, as are methods for making such catalysts, and methods of transforming biomass to bio-oil. The catalysts are especially useful for, but are not limited to, microwave- and induction-heating based pyrolysis of biomass, solid waste, and other carbon containing materials into bio-oil. The catalysts can also be used for upgrading the bio-oil to enhance fuel quality.

Energy consumption in the United States alone was 97.7 quads in 2011 and is projected to rise to 102.3 quads by 2025 and to 107.6 quads by 2040. (1 quad≈1018 Joule.) The amount of energy derived from fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) is estimated to be 80% of total energy consumption. Ample supplies of agricultural and forestry residues could potentially be converted into usable energy sources. In the United States alone the annual availability of unused wood residues from logging and thinning is estimated to be 97 million dry tons.

Biomass pyrolysis is the thermochemical decomposition of biomass at elevated temperatures, in the absence of significant levels of oxygen gas. As the biomass (such as pine sawdust, cellulose, and Chinese tallow tree wood) is heated, it decomposes into volatile vapors, which are then rapidly condensed to form “bio-oil.” The remaining products are char and non-condensable gases. Each of these products has numerous applications. The char can be used to amend soils; it may be converted into activated carbon, or it may be used in a carbon-based catalyst. The excess non-condensable gas primarily comprises combustible gases such as H2, CO, C2H2, CH4, etc. These gases can optionally be redirected to supply energy to drive the pyrolysis process itself. Finally, the liquid bio-oil can be upgraded via for use as a hydrocarbon fuel or other industrial chemical. “Upgrading” typically implies hydrogenation or hydrodeoxygenation; but it can also include catalytic cracking to alter the relative mixture of products, as is often done when refining conventional petroleum.

11/26/2018 5:08:04 PM
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