Biomass to Olefins by Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis
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45 Manning Road, Billerica, MA, -
AbstractAerodyne Research Inc. (ARI) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) plan to develop an efficient catalytic system to convert biomass into olefins for the production of hydrocarbons in the gasoline, diesel, and/or jet fuel range by way of catalytic fast pyrolysis. Conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks from resources as varied as corn stover, grasses, wood, and sugar cane bagasse is crucial to the long-term supply of liquid hydrocarbon transportation fuels in the U.S. First generation biofuels projects have focused on production of ethanol from limited biomass resources such as corn sugar. Both the feedstock and the product must be modified for long-term biofuel viability. Here, we describe a catalytic fast pyrolysis method that aims to convert abundant cellulosic and lignocellulosic feedstock materials into reactive olefin monomers a process we term biomass-to-olefins (BTO). Well known technologies can convert the reactive olefin into a range of hydrocarbon fuels, including gasoline, diesel, and kerosene jet fuel. Unlike purely thermal pyrolysis, the product will be highly deoxygenated, thus improving its quality as a fuel feedstock. By careful selection of the relevant catalyst properties, olefins will be produced selectively over the undesired coke and aromatic products often formed in catalytic pyrolysis. Specific tasks to be included in this Phase I effort include synthesizing and characterizing a range of catalysts to systematically test the effects of surface acidity, pore size, and pore structure on olefin selectivity and yield. Phase II will involve demonstrating the BTO process at larger scale and at continuous operation.
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