Continuous flow upgrading of lignin pyrolysis oils to drop-in bio-hydrocarbon fuels over noble metal catalysts

Hanbyeol Kim, Jinho Lee, Yoonsoo Kim, Jeong Myeong Ha, Young Kwon Park, Dionisios G. Vlachos, Young Woong Suh, Jungho Jae

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Although there are many studies on the noble metal-based catalysts for the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of lignin model compounds such as phenols, HDO studies on lignin biomass pyrolysis oil are relatively scarce. Owing to its complex composition (i.e., a mixture of phenolic monomers and oligomers), the activity and stability of the catalysts for the HDO of pyrolysis oil are significantly different from those for the model compounds. In this study, the catalytic performances of typical HDO catalysts, that is, Ru, Pd, Ru-Re supported on carbon, and the effects of process parameters such as solvent, temperature, and space velocity were investigated for the real lignin pyrolysis oils in a continuous-flow trickle bed reactor system for the first time. We demonstrated that proper tuning of catalyst composition and process parameters allows for producing the deoxygenated hydrocarbon mixtures which can be used for gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuels. Specifically, activated carbon promoted the HDO of lignin oil more effectively than acidic supports like HZSM-5 and TiO2 due to the weak adsorption of phenolic molecules. Among the different metals, Ru-Re supported on carbon exhibited the highest deoxygenation activity due to the synergy of the two metals. Tetrahydrofuran was the best solvent for lignin oil processing due to its high solubility and inertness to other side reactions (e.g., excess alkylation with ethanol solvent). The use of low space velocity of 0.2 h−1 and intermediate temperature of 350 °C resulted in the highest yield of the upgrade oil (∼25 wt%) simultaneously with the high level of deoxygenation (O/C < 0.04), mainly consisting of branched cycloalkanes. The causes of the catalyst deactivation and regeneration process are also discussed to provide practical significance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148328
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Biomass
  • Continuous flow
  • Hydrocarbon fuels
  • Hydrodeoxygenation
  • Pyrolysis oil


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