Pyrolysis oils derived from lignocellulosic feedstocks by way of fast pyrolysis offer the possibility of a distinct alternative to the use of petroleum-based fuels. However, an inherent drawback associated with pyrolysis oil its high oxygen content which is due to the nature of the lignocellulosic biomass from which it derives. Extensive efforts are being put forth to treat pyrolytic vapors in situ using zeolite catalysts. For our experiment, the catalytic conversion of oak pyrolysis vapors was performed at 500°C using a 2.5 kg/hr fluidized-bed fast pyrolysis reactor that was fitted with a re-heated (425°C) split-stream fixed-bed catalytic cracker containing zeolite-type catalyst. The placement of the split-stream fixed-bed catalytic reactor was varied within the condenser train to determine the effect of the removal of increasing amounts of water and oxygenated components from within the pyrolytic vapor stream. The cracked pyrolytic vapors resulting from the fixed-bed catalyst were collected by way of immediate contact with a dry-ice acetone bath followed by secondary collection using a methanol spray condenser. Karl Fisher titration and elemental and quantitative GC/MS analyses were performed to determine relevant trends within the experiment. The recovered liquid products that passed through the fixed-bed catalytic reactor displayed a remarkable decrease in the amount of oxygen containing species and a significant increase in the presence of aromatic hydrocarbons.
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