High-pressure fast-pyrolysis, fast-hydropyrolysis and catalytic hydrodeoxygenation of cellulose: production of liquid fuel from biomass, Green Chemistry, 2014, Advance Article DOI: 10.1039/C3GC41558A
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A lab-scale, high-pressure, continuous-flow fast-hydropyrolysis and vapor-phase catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) reactor has been successfully designed, built and tested with cellulose as a model biomass feedstock. We investigated the effects of pyrolysis temperature on high-pressure cellulose fast-pyrolysis, hydrogen on high-pressure cellulose fast-hydropyrolysis, reaction pressure (27 bar and 54 bar) on our reactor performance and candidate catalysts for downstream catalytic HDO of cellulose fast-hydropyrolysis vapors. In this work, a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) method has been developed and utilized for quantitative characterization of the liquid products. The major compounds in the liquid from cellulose fast-pyrolysis (27 bar, 520 °C) are levoglucosan and its isomers, formic acid, glycolaldehyde, and water, constituting 51 wt%, 11 wt%, 8 wt% and 24 wt% of liquid respectively. Our results show that high pressures of hydrogen do not have a significant effect on the fast-hydropyrolysis of cellulose at 480 °C but suppress the formation of reactive light oxygenate species like glycolaldehyde and formic acid at 580 °C. The formation of permanent gases (CO, CO2, CH4) and glycolaldehyde and formic acid increased with increasing pyrolysis temperature in the range of 480 °C–580 °C in high-pressure cellulose fast-pyrolysis, in the absence of hydrogen. Candidate HDO catalysts Al2O3, 2% Ru/Al2O3 and 2% Pt/Al2O3 resulted in extents of deoxygenation of 20%, 22% and 27%, respectively, but led to carbon loss to gas phase as CO and CH4. These catalysts provide useful insights for other candidate HDO catalysts for improving the extent of deoxygenation with higher carbon recovery in the liquid product.