(6gh) Catalytic Conversion of Transportation Fuel and Cellulosic Biomass Derivatives over Zeolite Catalysts

Kim, S., University of South Carolina

The current energy policies around the world have encouraged the development of fuel conversion processes and renewable energy sources.  With this point of view, my Ph.D. research area can be classified into three regions; transportation fuel conversion, cellulosic biomass conversion into transportation fuel and value-added chemicals, and study of zeolite catalyst materials.  For the first subject, various fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel including logistic fuel were investigated for production of hydrogen and light hydrocarbons in attempt to improve fuel efficiency and flexibility in remote area. For example, catalytic cracking of JP-8, logistic fuel in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the U.S. military, was conducted for the purpose of overcoming logical and functional limitation of existing devices such as diesel generator or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in battle field by using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as power source of solid oxide fuel cell from JP-8 itself.

As aforementioned, the conversion of sustainable biomass for the production of energy and high value chemicals has been proposed as an enabling technology and received a great deal of interest for decades. Particularly, cellulosic biomass has been recently drawn attention as attractive feedstock due to abundance, low cost, and non-competing with food chain. Hence utilization of cellulosic biomass feedstock was allocated as another major research project. A variety of bio-feedstock, such as furfural, levulinic acid, gamma valerolactone, and pentanediol, was investigated over various zeolite catalysts, and finally, we were able to demonstrate a novel method for the production of LPG-like fuel, benzene, toluene, and xylenes from cellulosic biomass feedstock.

As catalytic fuel process and biomass conversion studies have been carried out using zeolite materials, synthesis of zeolite and zeolite based catalysts are essential part of my doctorial work. Several attempts, for instance varying synthesis temperature, time, organic template, etc., to modify crystal size, pore structure, and acid property of zeolite materials have been conducted. Furthermore, microwave-assisted heating method was compared with conventional hydrothermal heating method for the endeavor to development an efficient method for zeolite material synthesis.