(6x) Catalytic Hydrotreatment for the Development of Alternative Transportation Fuels

Authors: 
Funkenbusch, L., Michigan Technological University
Mullins, M., Michigan Technological University
Research Interests:

Biologically-derived feedstocks are a highly desirable source of alternative transportation fuel. They can be grown renewably and can produce fuels similar in composition to conventional fossil fuels. They are also versatile and wide-ranging. Plant oils can produce renewable diesel and wood-based pyrolysis oils can be made into renewable gasoline. Catalytic hydrotreatment can be used to reduce the oxygen content of the oils and increase their viability as a â??drop-inâ? transportation fuel, since they can then easily be blended with existing petroleum-based fuels. However, product distribution depends strongly on feedstock composition and processing parameters, especially temperature, hydrogen/oil flow rates and catalyst. Current literature contains little relevant information for predicting process-level data in a way that can be used for proper life cycle or techno-economic assessment. For pyrolysis oil, the associated reaction pathways have been explored via experimental studies on model compounds in a bench scale hydrotreatment reactor. The reaction kinetics of each compound were studied as a function of temperature and catalyst. This experimental data is used to determine rate constants for a hybrid, lumped-parameter kinetic model of paradigm compounds and pyrolysis oil, which can be used to scale-up this process to simulate larger, pilot-scale reactors. For plant oils, enough appropriate data was found in the literature and adapted for a preliminary model. With a systematic collection of kinetic data, hydrotreatment models can be developed that can predict important LCA inputs, such as hydrogen consumption, energy consumption and GHG production, which are necessary for regulatory and assessment purposes.

Teaching Interests:

While my research is focused on reaction engineering, my teaching experience has been focused in thermodynamics. As a TA, I lectured, held office hours, ran review sessions, graded both undergraduate and graduate level work, and helped write problems for homework and exams. I also have experience with teaching Unit Operations, and would be confident running an experimental laboratory class as well. I received the Outstanding Teaching Award from Michigan Technological University in 2015.

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