New process boosts lignin bio-oil as a next-generation fuel

September 13, 2020 |

In Georgia, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that a new low-temperature multi-phase process for upgrading lignin bio-oil to hydrocarbons could help expand use of the lignin, which is now largely a waste product left over from the productions of cellulose and bioethanol from trees and other woody plants.

Using a dual catalyst system of superacid and platinum particles, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have shown they can add hydrogen and remove oxygen from lignin bio-oil, making the oil more useful as a fuel and source of chemical feedstocks. The process, based on an unusual hydrogen cycle, can be done at low temperature and ambient pressure, improving the practicality of the upgrade and reducing the energy input needed.

“From an environmental and sustainability standpoint, people want to use oil produced from biomass,” said Yulin Deng, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Renewable Bioproducts Institute. “The worldwide lignin production from paper and bioethanol manufacturing is 50 million tons annually, and more than 95% of that is simply burned to generate heat. My lab is looking for practical methods to upgrade low molecular weight lignin compounds to make them commercially viable as high-quality biofuel and biochemicals.”

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Category: Fuels

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