Noble Metal Catalysts in the Production of Biofuels

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School of Chemical Technology | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2013-10-18
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75 + app. 75
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 140/2013
The energy demand is increasing in the world together with the need to ensure energy security and the desire to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. While several renewable alternatives are available for the production of electricity, e.g. solar energy, wind power, and hydrogen, biomass is the only renewable source that can meet the demand for carbon-based liquid fuels and chemicals. The technology applied in the conversion of biomass depends on the type and complexity of the biomass, and the desired fuel. Hydrogen and hydrogen-rich mixtures (synthesis gas) are promising energy sources as they are more efficient and cleaner than existing fuels, especially when they are used in fuel cells. Hydrotreatment is a catalytic process that can be used in the conversion of biomass or biomass-derived liquids into fuels. In autothermal reforming (ATR), catalysts are used in the production of hydrogen-rich mixtures from conventional fuels or bio-fuels. The different nature of biomass and biomass-derived liquids and mineral oil makes the use of catalysts developed for the petroleum industry challenging. This requires the improvement of available catalysts and the development of new ones. To overcome the limitations of conventional hydrotreatment and ATR catalysts, zirconia-supported mono- and bimetallic rhodium, palladium, and platinum catalysts were developed and tested in the upgrading of model compounds for wood-based pyrolysis oil and in the production of hydrogen, using model compounds for gasoline and diesel. Catalysts were also tested in the ATR of ethanol. For comparative purposes commercial catalysts were tested and the results obtained with model compounds were compared with those obtained with real feedstocks (hydrotreatmet tests with wood-based pyrolysis oil and ATR tests with NExBTL renewable diesel). Noble metal catalysts were active and selective in the hydrotreatment of guaiacol used as the model compound for the lignin fraction of wood-based pyrolysis oil and wood-based pyrolysis oil, and in the ATR of simulated gasoline and diesel, low sulfur diesel and ethanol for the production of hydrogen-rich mixture for fuel cells. In hydrotreatment and ATR, rhodium-containing catalysts were the most active, selective, and stable.
Supervising professor
Krause, A. O. I., Prof., Aalto University, Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology, Finland
Thesis advisor
Honkela, M. L., Dr., Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology, Aalto University, Finland
biofuels, wood-based biofuels, noble metal catalysts, pyrolysis oil, hydrotreatment, autothermal reforming, ethanol reforming
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: A. Gutierrez, R.K. Kaila, M.L. Honkela, R. Slioor, A.O.I. Krause, Hydrodeoxygenation of guaiacol on noble metal catalysts, Catalysis Today 147 (2009) 239-246.
  • [Publication 2]: A.R. Ardiyanti, A. Gutierrez, M.L. Honkela, A.O.I. Krause, H.J. Heeres, Hydrotreatment of wood-based pyrolysis oil using zirconia-supported mono- and bimetallic (Pt, Pd, Rh) catalysts, Applied Catalysis A: General 407 (2011) 56-66.
  • [Publication 3]: R.K. Kaila, A. Gutierrez, R. Slioor, M. Kemell, M. Leskela, A.O.I. Krause, Zirconiasupported bimetallic RhPt catalysts: Characterization and testing in autohermal reforming of simulated gasoline, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 84 (2008) 223-232.
  • [Publication 4]: R.K. Kaila, A. Gutierrez, A.O.I. Krause, Autothermal reforming of simulated and commercial diesel: The performance of zirconia-supported RhPt catalyst in the presence of sulfur, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 84 (2008) 324-331.
  • [Publication 5]: R.K. Kaila, A. Gutierrez, S.T. Korhonen, A.O.I. Krause, Autothermal reforming of ndodecane, toluene, and their mixture on mono- and bimetallic noble metal zirconia catalysts, Catalysis Letters 115 (2007) 70-78.
  • [Publication 6]: A. Gutierrez, R. Karinen, S. Airaksinen, R. Kaila, A.O.I. Krause, Autothermal reforming of ethanol on noble metal catalysts, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 36, (2011) 8967-8977.