(621cv) Influence of Alkaline Earth Metals on Cellulose Pyrolysis

Authors: 
Zhu, C., University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Maduskar, S., University of Minnesota
Krumm, C., University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Dauenhauer, P., University of Minnesota

Biomass is receiving significant attention as a renewable energy resource for fuels and chemicals. The technology for conversion of biomass to ‘bio-oils’ via pyrolysis is a promising approach that has reached an intermediate stage of development. The underlying challenges in pyrolysis chemistry are the complex cellular structure of woody biomass and the presence of inorganic species within biomass that act as natural catalysts, significantly affecting the yield of bio-oil as well as its product distribution. The primary objective of the research is to understand the molecular-level role of these natural catalysts, which is important in optimizing biofuel production processes. This research work aims to investigate the effect of alkaline earth metals such as calcium and magnesium on primary and secondary pyrolysis of cellulose. Both the homogeneous catalytic role of reactive metal ions (Ca2+, Mg2+) and the heterogeneous catalytic role of solid oxide particles (CaO, MgO) are considered in the condensed cellulose phase. It is planned to experimentally measure activation energies for specific primary products of cellulose pyrolysis from initial rates measurements. This will enable to quantity the catalytic effects of alkaline earth metals in terms of relative change in activation energies on different primary reactions, which will in turn help in developing mechanistic understanding of primary reactions.  Determining the role of natural inorganic catalysts in altering pyrolysis chemistry within the intermediated liquid and the nature of primary reactions will allow for optimization of transport-kinetic models used to scale up and optimize pyrolysis reactors and contribute to the development of biofuel production processes.

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