(431b) Commercialization Example: Catalytic Indirect Liquefaction of Biomass

Schaidle, J. A., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The C1 chemistry of methanol and dimethyl ether (DME) over acidic zeolites remains a promising route for the conversion of biomass-derived synthesis gas into hydrocarbons. This interest is driven by the variety of products that can be accessed – light olefins, aromatics, branched alkanes – based on the zeolite type and the operating conditions. Research within the ChemCatBio consortium has focused on catalyst and process development for the production of C4-C7 hydrocarbons from DME over a copper-modified beta zeolite (Cu/BEA) catalyst. The multifunctional Cu/BEA catalyst enables incorporation of co-fed H2 into the hydrocarbon products, and results in a 2-fold increase in hydrocarbon productivity with 1/3 of the aromatics production versus the parent HBEA. Further, we have recently reported that ionic Cu(1+) sites in the Cu/BEA catalyst activate alkanes via dehydrogenation. This functionality offers the opportunity to activate non-gasoline range C4 products, reincorporate them into the chain-growth pathway, and ultimately increase the C5+ product yield. This presentation will demonstrate how techno-economic analysis (TEA) of the process can be used to direct catalyst development research to target specific performance advancements, and similarly, how performance improvements exhibited by the Cu/BEA catalyst affect the resulting economic viability of the process.