Catalytic Upgrading of Biomass Pyrolysis Oxygenates with Vacuum Gas Oil Using a Davison Circulating Riser Reactor

Research paper by Mark W. Jarvis, Jessica Olstad, Yves Parent, Steve Deutch, Kristiina Iisa, Earl Christensen, Haoxi Ben, Stuart Black, Mark Nimlos, Kim Magrini

Indexed on: 01 Feb '18Published on: 02 Jan '18Published in: Energy & Fuels


We investigate and quantitate the changes in hydrocarbon product composition while evaluating the performance and operability of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Davison Circulating Riser (DCR) reactor system when biomass model compounds are cofed with traditional fluid catalyst cracking (FCC) feeds and catalyst: vacuum gas oil (VGO) and equilibrium zeolite catalyst (E-Cat). Three compounds (acetic acid, guaiacol, and sorbitan monooleate) were selected to represent the major classes of oxygenates present in biomass pyrolysis vapors. These vapors can contain 30–50% oxygen as oxygenates, which create conversion complications (increased reactivity and coking) when integrating biomass vapors and liquids into fuel and chemical processes long dominated by petroleum feedstocks. We used these model compounds to determine the appropriate conditions for coprocessing with petroleum and ultimately pure pyrolysis vapors only as compared with standard baseline conditions obtained with VGO and E-Cat only in the DCR. Model compound addition decreased the DCR catalyst circulation rate, which controls reactor temperature and measures reaction heat demand, while increasing catalyst coking rates. Liquid product analyses included 2-dimensional gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectroscopy (2D GC×GC TOFS), simulated distillation (SIM DIST), 13C NMR, and carbonyl content. Aggregated results indicated that the model compounds were converted during reaction, and despite functional group differences, product distributions for each model compound were very similar. In addition, we determined that adding model compounds to the VGO feed did not significantly affect the DCR’s operability or performance. Future work will assess catalytic upgrading of biomass pyrolysis vapor to fungible hydrocarbon products using upgrading catalysts currently being developed at NREL and at Johnson Matthey.

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