(209e) Chemical Reaction Engineering Challenges for Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Liquid Fuels and Chemicals

Dumesic, J. A. - Presenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Environmental and political issues created by our dependence on fossil fuels, such as global warming and national security, combined with diminishing petroleum resources are causing our society to search for new renewable sources of energy and chemicals, and an important sustainable source of organic fuels, chemicals and materials is plant biomass. We present an integrated catalytic approach for the conversion of carbohydrates to specific classes of hydrocarbons for use as liquid transportation fuels. This approach is based on the integration of two flow reactors operated in a cascade mode, where the effluent from the first reactor is fed to the second reactor, and can be tuned either for production of highly branched hydrocarbons and aromatic compounds in gasoline, or for production of longer chain, less highly branched hydrocarbons in diesel and jet fuels. This two-reactor approach provides further processing flexibility because the effluent stream from the first flow reactor produces a liquid organic stream containing mono-functional compounds, such as alcohols, ketones, carboxylic acids, and heterocycles that can also be used to provide reactive intermediates for the lower-volume, but higher value, fine chemicals and polymers markets. We also present a cascade approach for the conversion of solid cellulose to liquid hydrocarbons, involving the intermediate production of levulinic acid.