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Integrated hydropyrolysis and vapor-phase hydrodeoxygenation process with Pd/Al2O3 for production of advanced oxygen-containing biofuels from cellulosic wastes

by Dongxian Li, Xianzhi Meng, Arthur J Ragauskas
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Fuel Processing Technology
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This study focuses on developing advanced oxygen-containing biofuels with high furan, cyclic ketone, and ethanol content from holocellulose and cellulosic wastes. To achieve this, we employed an integrated process that combined hydropyrolysis and vapor-phase hydrodeoxygenation using Pd/Al2O3 as a catalyst. In the first stage, the non-catalytic hydropyrolysis of hemicellulose resulted in furfural and acetic acid fractions that were effectively converted into furans, cyclic ketones, and ethanol in the second-stage reactor over Pd/Al2O3 under 0.3 MPa H2. We found that a hydropyrolysis temperature of 440 °C in the first stage reactor resulted in the highest yield of oxygen-containing biofuels (171.1 mg/g) with 89.2% hemicellulose conversion. However, increasing the hydrodeoxygenation temperature in the second stage reactor reduced the yield of oxygen-containing biofuels, and at 400 °C, excess deoxygenation led to hydrocarbon production. The Pd/Al2O3 catalyst demonstrated high stability during the vapor-phase hydrodeoxygenation of primary furfural and acetic acid intermediates, with only 2.1% coke formation after three reaction cycles. This scalable process enables the conversion of various cellulosic wastes into advanced oxygen-containing biofuels, with considerable total yields. Our findings suggest that this integrated process holds great promise for converting biomass waste into advanced oxygen-containing biofuels.