Title page for ETD etd-12212011-131753

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Mante, Nii Ofei Daku
Author's Email Address omante@vt.edu
URN etd-12212011-131753
Title Fractional Catalytic Pyrolysis Technology for the Production of Upgraded Bio-oil using FCC Catalyst
Degree PhD
Department Biological Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Zhang, Chenming Mike Committee Chair
Agblevor, Foster Aryi Committee Co-Chair
Frazier, Charles E. Committee Member
Jayaram, Sankar Committee Member
McClung, Ronald G. Committee Member
  • recycling of non-condensable gases
  • response surface methodology
  • biomass
  • bio-oil
  • FCC catalyst
  • fractional catalytic pyrolysis
  • Y-zeolite
  • ZSM-5
Date of Defense 2011-12-19
Availability unrestricted
Catalytic pyrolysis technology is one of the thermochemical platforms used to produce high quality bio-oil and chemicals from biomass feedstocks. In the catalytic pyrolysis process, the biomass is rapidly heated under inert atmosphere in the presence of an acid catalyst or zeolite to promote deoxygenation and cracking of the primary vapors into hydrocarbons and small oxygenates. This dissertation examines the utilization of conventional fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalyst in the fractional catalytic pyrolysis of hybrid poplar wood. The influence of Y-zeolite content, steam treatment, addition of ZSM-5 additive, process conditions (temperature, weight hourly space velocity (WHSV) and vapor residence time) and recycling of the non-condensable gases (NCG) on the product distribution and the quality of the bio-oil were investigated.

The first part of the study demonstrates the influence of catalytic property of FCC catalyst on the product distribution and quality of the bio-oil. It was found that FCC catalyst with higher Y-zeolite content produces higher coke yield and lower organic liquid fraction (OLF). Conversely, FCC catalyst with lower Y-zeolite content results in lower coke yield and higher OLF. The results showed that higher Y-zeolite content extensively cracks dehydrated products from cellulose decomposition and demethoxylates phenolic compounds from lignin degradation. The Y-zeolite promoted both deoxygenation and coke forming reactions due to its high catalytic activity and large pore size. Higher Y-zeolite content increased the quality of the bio-oil with respect to higher heating value (HHV), pH, density, and viscosity. The steam treatment at 732 oC and 788 oC decreased the total BET surface area of the FCC catalyst. The findings suggest that steam treatment reduces the coking tendency of the FCC catalyst and enhances the yield of the OLF. Analysis of the bio-oils showed that the steamed FCC catalyst produces bio-oil with lower viscosity and density. Gas chromatography and 13C-NMR spectrometry suggest that steam treatment affect the catalyst selectivity in the formation of CO, CO2, H2, CH4, C2-C5 hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons. The addition of ZSM-5 additive to the FCC catalyst was found to alter the characteristic/functionality of the catalytic medium. The product slate showed decrease in coke yield and increase in OLF with increase in ZSM-5 additive. The FCC/ZSM-5 additive hybrid catalysts produced bio-oils with relatively lower viscosity and higher pH value. The formation of CO2, CH4, and H2 decreased whilst C5 and aromatic hydrocarbons increased with increase in ZSM-5 additive level.

The second part of the work assesses the effect of operating conditions on the catalytic pyrolysis process. The response surface methodology study showed reaction temperature to be the most influential statistically significant independent variable on char/coke yield, concentration of non-condensable gases, carbon content, oxygen content, pH and viscosity of the bio-oils. The WHSV was the most important statistically significant independent variable that affects the yield of organic liquid and water. Adequate and statistically significant models were generated for the prediction of the responses with the exception of viscosity. Recycling of the NCG in the process was found to potentially increase the liquid yield and decrease char/coke yield. The experiments with the model fluidizing gases showed that CO/N2, CO2/N2, CO/CO2/N2 and H2/N2 increase the liquid yield and CO2/N2 decrease char/coke yield. The results showed that recycling of NCG increases the higher heating value and the pH of the bio-oil as well as decreases the viscosity and density. The concept of recycling the NCG in the catalytic cracking of biomass vapors with FCC catalyst improved the overall process. The evaluation of the reactivity of conventional FCC catalyst towards bio-based molecules provide essential direction for FCC catalyst formulation and design for the production of high quality bio-oils from catalytic pyrolysis of biomass.

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