Catalytic Flash Pyrolysis of Biomass Using Different Types of Zeolite and Online Vapor Fractionation

Ali Imran, Eddy Bramer, Kulathuiyer Seshan, Gerrit Brem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Bio-oil produced from conventional flash pyrolysis has poor quality and requires expensive upgrading before it can be used as a transportation fuel. In this work, a high quality bio-oil has been produced using a novel approach where flash pyrolysis, catalysis and fractionation of pyrolysis vapors using two stage condensation are combined in a single process unit. A bench scale unit of 1 kg/h feedstock capacity is used for catalytic pyrolysis in an entrained down-flow reactor system equipped with two-staged condensation of the pyrolysis vapor. Zeolite-based catalysts are investigated to study the effect of varying acidities of faujasite Y zeolites, zeolite structures (ZSM5), different catalyst to biomass ratios and different catalytic pyrolysis temperatures. Low catalyst/biomass ratios did not show any significant improvements in the bio-oil quality, while high catalyst/biomass ratios showed an effective deoxygenation of the bio-oil. The application of zeolites decreased the organic liquid yield due to the increased production of non-condensables, primarily hydrocarbons. The catalytically produced bio-oil was less viscous and zeolites were effective at cracking heavy molecular weight compounds in the bio-oil. Acidic zeolites, H-Y and H-ZSM5, increased the desirable chemical compounds in the bio-oil such as phenols, furans and hydrocarbon, and reduced the undesired compounds such as acids. On the other hand reducing the acidity of zeolites reduced some of the undesired compounds in the bio-oil such as ketones and aldehydes. The performance of H-Y was superior to that of the rest of zeolites studied: bio-oil of high chemical and calorific value was produced with a high organic liquid yield and low oxygen content. H-ZSM5 was a close competitor to H-Y in performance but with a lower yield of bio-oil. Online fractionation of catalytic pyrolysis vapors was employed by controlling the condenser temperature and proved to be a successful process parameter to tailor the desired bio-oil properties. A high calorific value bio-oil having up to 90% organics was produced using two staged condensation of catalytic pyrolysis vapor. Zeolite-based acidic catalysts can be used for selective deoxygenation, and the catalytic bio-oil quality can be further improved with staged vapor condensation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 11 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was funded by the Dutch Technology Foundation STW and carried out at the University of Twente, The Netherlands.


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