(695f) Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass

Stone, M. - Presenter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Anderson, E., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Roman, Y., MIT
Beckham, G. T., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Katahira, R., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Reed, M., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
As an abundant and renewable source of carbon, lignocellulosic biomass is an excellent feedstock for sustainable fuel and chemical production. Biomass primarily consists of carbohydrates (cellulose and hemicellulose) and lignin. Carbohydrates have been extensively studied and shown to be versatile feedstocks for the production of fuels and chemicals. Lignin, the largest source of natural aromatics, becomes highly recalcitrant during carbohydrate processing, hindering chemical production from lignin. Reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) has emerged as a leading biomass fractionation and lignin valorization strategy that simultaneously extracts, depolymerizes and stabilizes lignin without disturbing the carbohydrate fractions. Here, flowthrough reactors were used to investigate RCF of poplar. Most RCF studies to date have been conducted in batch, but a flow-based process enables the acquisition of intrinsic kinetic and mechanistic data essential to accelerate the design, optimization, and scale-up of RCF processes. Time-resolved product distributions and yields obtained from experiments with different catalyst loadings were used to identify and deconvolute events during solvolysis and reductive stabilization. Multi-bed RCF experiments provided unique insights into catalyst deactivation, and initial rate studies enabled the determination of kinetic parameters intrinsic to the solvolytic step of RCF. Overall, this work demonstrates the concept of flowthrough RCF, which will be vital for realistic scale-up of this promising approach.