Fast pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass produces a renewable liquid fuel called pyrolysis oil that is the cheapest liquid fuel produced from biomass today. Here we show that pyrolysis oils can be converted into industrial commodity chemical feedstocks using an integrated catalytic approach that combines hydroprocessing with zeolite catalysis. The hydroprocessing increases the intrinsic hydrogen content of the pyrolysis oil, producing polyols and alcohols. The zeolite catalyst then converts these hydrogenated products into light olefins and aromatic hydrocarbons in a yield as much as three times higher than that produced with the pure pyrolysis oil. The yield of aromatic hydrocarbons and light olefins from the biomass conversion over zeolite is proportional to the intrinsic amount of hydrogen added to the biomass feedstock during hydroprocessing. The total product yield can be adjusted depending on market values of the chemical feedstocks and the relative prices of the hydrogen and biomass.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/george_huber/24/