(627g) Production of Ethanol From Biomass-Derived Syngas

Deng, W. - Presenter, Iowa State University
Li, Z. - Presenter, Iowa State University
Huang, Y. - Presenter, Iowa State University
Lin, V. S. - Presenter, Iowa State University
Brown, R. C. - Presenter, Iowa State University

The development of alternative energy, especially from biorenewable resources, such as biomass, has attracted more research interest because of depletion of fossil oil resources, global climate change and national security concerns. Compared to the other alternative energy choices, the production of energy and chemicals from biomass is more attractive due to the vast potential availability of biomass materials and the availability of existing technologies that potentially enable the production of energy and chemicals in commercial scales in shorter time period for near future. Researchers at Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies (CSET) and the Center for Catalysis at US-DOE's Ames Laboratory, both located at Iowa State University, have been working together on developing a thermo-catalytic process on producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass. In the present work, novel heterogeneous catalysts based on nano-technology, such as Rhodium nanoparticles supported on mesoporous materials, have been synthesized, characterized and tested for their performances using high-pressure fixed-bed reactor systems. Preliminary results using selected catalysts showed promising catalytic activity and good selectivity to ethanol. Methods for determining the relationships between reaction conditions and catalyst performances (i.e. conversion yield and selectivity) have been explored and optimized. More catalytic materials are currently screened and tested further to determine the most promising catalyst. The investigation on catalyst synthesis involve the utilization of different promoters and supporting materials in order to finally develop a catalyst that will provide the optimum activity and ethanol selectivity. The catalyst's robustness will be tested by using synthesis gas mixture containing impurities typically still present in synthesis gas produced from biomass gasification that has undergone typical syngas-cleaning process used in industry.