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Title: Bio-Oil Separation and Stabilization by Supercritical Fluid Fractionation. 2014 Final Report

The objective of this project is to use supercritical fluids to separate and fractionate algal-based bio-oils into stable products that can be subsequently upgraded to produce drop-in renewable fuels. To accomplish this objective, algae was grown and thermochemically converted to bio-oils using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), pyrolysis, and catalytic pyrolysis. The bio-oils were separated into an extract and a raffinate using near-critical propane or carbon dioxide. The fractions were then subjected to thermal aging studies to determine if the extraction process had stabilized the products. It was found that the propane extract fraction was twice as stable as the parent catalytic pyrolysis bio-oils as measured by the change in viscosity after two weeks of accelerated aging at 80°C. Further, in-situ NMR aging studies found that the propane extract was chemically more stable than the parent bio-oil. Thus the milestone of stabilizing the product was met. A preliminary design of the extraction plant was prepared. The design was based on a depot scale plant processing 20,000,000 gallons per year of bio-oil. It was estimated that the capital costs for such a plant would be $8,700,000 with an operating cost of $3,500,000 per year. On a per gallon of product cost and amore » 10% annual rate of return, capital costs would represent $0.06 per gallon and operating costs would amount to $0.20 per gallon. Further, it was found that the energy required to run the process represented 6.2% of the energy available in the bio-oil, meeting the milestone of less than 20%. Life cycle analysis and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission analysis found that the energy for running the critical fluid separation process and the GHG emissions were minor compared to all the inputs to the overall well to pump system. For the well to pump system boundary, energetics in biofuel conversion are typically dominated by energy demands in the growth, dewater, and thermochemical process. Bio-oil stabilization by near critical propane extraction had minimal impact in the overall energetics of the process with NER contributions of 0.03. Based on the LCA, the overall conversion pathways were found to be energy intensive with a NER of about 2.3 and 1.2 for catalytic pyrolysis and HTL, respectively. GHG emissions for the catalytic pyrolysis process were greater than that of petroleum diesel at 210 g CO2 eq compared to 18.9 g CO2 eq. Microalgae bio-oil based diesel with thermochemical conversion through HTL meets renewable fuel standards with favorable emission reductions of -10.8 g CO2 eq. The importance of the outcomes is that the critical fluid extraction and stabilization process improved product stability and did so with minimal energy inputs and processing costs. The LCA and GHG emission calculations point toward the HTL pathway as the more favorable thermochemical route towards upgrading algae to bio-fuels. Since the quality of the HTL oil was significantly lower than that of the catalytic pyrolysis bio-oil, the next steps point toward improving the quality of the HTL oils from algae biomass and focusing the critical fluid stabilization on that bio-oil product.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Utah State Univ., Logan, UT (United States)
  2. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
  3. CF Technologies, Hyde Park, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS Supercritical Fluid, Algae, Pyrolysis, Hydrotherma