Sulfur Tolerant Catalysts for Biomass Tar Removal

Award Information
Environmental Protection Agency
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
NexTech Materials, Ltd.
404 Enterprise Dr., Lewis Center, OH, -
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Richard Long
(614) 842-6606
Business Contact:
Scott Swartz
(614) 842-6606
Research Institution:

In this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project, NexTech Materials proposes a catalytic reforming approach to remove waste tar from gasified biomass on nickel-based catalysts. Biomass gasification is a potential renewable route to producing electricity, liquid fuels, and value-added chemicals. At high temperatures, carbonaceous biomass reacts with air, oxygen, and /or steam to product a gaseous product containing mostly H2, CO, CO2, H2O2, and CH4. Subsequently the gasified product gas is further processed into energy (via gas turbines or fuel cells), hydrogen (via additional catalytic reaction and purification steps), or into liquid fuels of chemical (via Fischer-Tropsch processes). However, the mixture of condensable hydrocarbons (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which can fowl turbines, fuel cells and other downstream processing and utilization equipment. Thus it need to be removed after the gasification process in order to protect down-stream equipment. A major challenge to utilization of biomass gasification technology is cost-effective and efficient removal of tar from the product stream. An established technology which is used today is liquid scrubbing. This approach needs to cool gasification gas from about 900°C to near ambient temperature, reducing energy efficiency since most downstream processes occur at higher temperatures. Further the generated liquid waste still needs to be treated in an environmentally responsible manner later. In comparison, the proposed catalytic reforming method will not only enhance overall energy efficiency and eliminate the process for the liquid waste disposal, but also convert tar, methane and light hydrocarbons to useful syngas, increasing the fuel value. On the nickel based catalysts, hydrocarbons can react with steam and CO2 to produce CO and H2. The catalysts have shown good activity in tar reforming and 900°C and are tolerant to H2S and NH3, two impurities in the biomass gasification product. The lower temperature activity will be improved by adding a small amount of promoters due to the enhancement of the catalyst reducibility. This sulfur tolerant catalyst will enable efficient us of biomass to produce power, liquid fuels and valuable chemicals.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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