Development of biofuel could contribute to Norwegian climate targets and the transport sector is the key to Norway?s green shift. Reduced Norwegian industrial use of forest feedstock and high demand of biofuel provides Norwegian biomass industries a ray of hope for the future of the business. Researchers at NTNU/SINTEF further develop the H2BioOil process that converts a larger part of the energy into biomass to biofuel and uses less energy to produce the fuel while avoiding the problems of slagging. Researchers integrate three processes: First, biomass passes through a high pressure hydropyrolysis. Pyrolysis means that the biomass is heated without the supply of air so that it is cleaved for easier connections. These substances enter a catalyst bed form biofuels and residues. The residual products go through a separate process that releases hydrogen. The hydrogen is returned to the pyrolysis chamber. The whole process can thus be run without the need to add hydrogen from outside, which makes the H2BioOil process economically viable. Researchers have developed the multifunctional catalysts with functions of carbon chain growth via aldol condensation reactions and oxygen removal by hydrogenation (HDO). The new catalysts directly convert the products from biomass pyrolysis to fuels with very low oxygen content. The sorption enhanced reforming unit convert the residuals of the HDO process to pure of hydrogen with high energy efficiency. The project demonstrated an efficient way to produce jet fuel range aromatics from biomass.
The results achieved in the project will complement the understanding of biomass pyrolysis to fuel and chemicals, using tandem catalytic strategy. The catalysts have been developed to effectively upgrade the pyrolysis vapor to fuels. The catalysts and process of H2BioOil for biofuel production including hydrogen generation from the byproducts in the process have been patented. It will provide Norwegian industry a good opportunity to further develop the technology with own IP to produce biofuels and contribute to reducing the CO2 emission.
We aim to study experimental proof and process- and economic evaluation of novel integrated H2BioOil process, which includes high pressure fast-hydropyrolysis (FHP)of lignocellulosic biomass in H2 followed by an immediate downstream vapor-phase catalytic aldol-condensation (CAC) and catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) to produce fuels (C4-C16+), which integrated with pressure swing sorption enhanced steam reforming (PS SE-SMR) to produce hydrogen at high pressures (about 20-30 bar). The main feature of the project is to achieve the fully sustainable production of biofuels without requiring external hydrogen, with high energy efficiency through effective utilization of carbon in biomass (about 70% of total carbon in lignocellulosic biomass) to biofuels and the rest to hydrogen by sorption enhanced reforming and integration of the process. Hydrogen presence in fast pyrolysis will reduce tar formation and supply the hydrogen in the following HDO reaction. Multifunctional catalysts of aldol condensation and ketonization, which have been developed in our previous work, will be further optimized to convert low oxygenates (C2-C3 aldehydes, acids, alkanes diols and alcohols) to heavy oxygenates through simultaneous oxygen removal and chain growth. The catalysts will be combined with HDO catalysts in a single reactor to produce C4-C16+ hydrocarbons. Fully sustainable production of biofuels depends solely on the sustainable production of hydrogen. The project will include a study of the production of pure hydrogen at high pressures from the by-products of the process, such as C2-C3 hydrocarbons, and aqueous solution from the HDO reactor by pressure-swing sorption enhanced reforming. These results from the experimental proof-of-concept could provide a process which could be deployed in small as well as large scale applications for sustainable production of drop-in transportation fuel from biomass due to its ability to produce hydrocarbons in a highly integrated step.