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Title: Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass

Abstract

Reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) has emerged as a leading biomass fractionation and lignin valorization strategy. Here, flowthrough reactors were used to investigate RCF of poplar. Most RCF studies to date have been conducted in batch, but a flow-based process enables the acquisition of intrinsic kinetic and mechanistic data essential to accelerate the design, optimization, and scale-up of RCF processes. Time-resolved product distributions and yields obtained from experiments with different catalyst loadings were used to identify and deconvolute events during solvolysis and hydrogenolysis. Multi-bed RCF experiments provided unique insights into catalyst deactivation, showing that leaching, sintering, and surface poisoning are causes for decreased catalyst performance. The onset of catalyst deactivation resulted in higher concentrations of unsaturated lignin intermediates and increased occurrence of repolymerization reactions, producing high-molecular-weight species. Overall, this study demonstrates the concept of flowthrough RCF, which will be vital for realistic scale-up of this promising approach.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
OSTI Identifier:
1414064
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5100-70664
Journal ID: ISSN 2542-4351
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Joule; Journal Volume: 1; Journal Issue: 3
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; semi-continuous; lignin; catalysis; RCF; biomass conversion; flow reactors; hydrogenolysis; solvolysis

Citation Formats

Anderson, Eric M., Stone, Michael L., Katahira, Rui, Reed, Michelle, Beckham, Gregg T., and Román-Leshkov, Yuriy. Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2017.10.004.
Anderson, Eric M., Stone, Michael L., Katahira, Rui, Reed, Michelle, Beckham, Gregg T., & Román-Leshkov, Yuriy. Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass. United States. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2017.10.004.
Anderson, Eric M., Stone, Michael L., Katahira, Rui, Reed, Michelle, Beckham, Gregg T., and Román-Leshkov, Yuriy. 2017. "Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass". United States. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2017.10.004.
@article{osti_1414064,
title = {Flowthrough Reductive Catalytic Fractionation of Biomass},
author = {Anderson, Eric M. and Stone, Michael L. and Katahira, Rui and Reed, Michelle and Beckham, Gregg T. and Román-Leshkov, Yuriy},
abstractNote = {Reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) has emerged as a leading biomass fractionation and lignin valorization strategy. Here, flowthrough reactors were used to investigate RCF of poplar. Most RCF studies to date have been conducted in batch, but a flow-based process enables the acquisition of intrinsic kinetic and mechanistic data essential to accelerate the design, optimization, and scale-up of RCF processes. Time-resolved product distributions and yields obtained from experiments with different catalyst loadings were used to identify and deconvolute events during solvolysis and hydrogenolysis. Multi-bed RCF experiments provided unique insights into catalyst deactivation, showing that leaching, sintering, and surface poisoning are causes for decreased catalyst performance. The onset of catalyst deactivation resulted in higher concentrations of unsaturated lignin intermediates and increased occurrence of repolymerization reactions, producing high-molecular-weight species. Overall, this study demonstrates the concept of flowthrough RCF, which will be vital for realistic scale-up of this promising approach.},
doi = {10.1016/j.joule.2017.10.004},
journal = {Joule},
number = 3,
volume = 1,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month =
}
  • Reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) has emerged as an effective biomass pretreatment strategy to depolymerize lignin into tractable fragments in high yields. We investigate the RCF of corn stover, a highly abundant herbaceous feedstock, using carbon-supported Ru and Ni catalysts at 200 and 250 degrees C in methanol and, in the presence or absence of an acid cocatalyst (H3PO4 or an acidified carbon support). Three key performance variables were studied: (1) the effectiveness of lignin extraction as measured by the yield of lignin oil, (2) the yield of monomers in the lignin oil, and (3) the carbohydrate retention in the residualmore » solids after RCF. The monomers included methyl coumarate/ferulate, propyl guaiacol/syringol, and ethyl guaiacol/syringol. The Ru and Ni catalysts performed similarly in terms of product distribution and monomer yields. The monomer yields increased monotonically as a function of time for both temperatures. At 6 h, monomer yields of 27.2 and 28.3% were obtained at 250 and 200 degrees C, respectively, with Ni/C. The addition of an acid cocatalysts to the Ni/C system increased monomer yields to 32% for acidified carbon and 38% for phosphoric acid at 200 degrees C. The monomer product distribution was dominated by methyl coumarate regardless of the use of the acid cocatalysts. The use of phosphoric acid at 200 degrees C or the high temperature condition without acid resulted in complete lignin extraction and partial sugar solubilization (up to 50%) thereby generating lignin oil yields that exceeded the theoretical limit. In contrast, using either Ni/C or Ni on acidified carbon at 200 degrees C resulted in moderate lignin oil yields of ca. 55%, with sugar retention values >90%. Notably, these sugars were amenable to enzymatic digestion, reaching conversions >90% at 96 h. Characterization studies on the lignin oils using two-dimensional heteronuclear single quantum coherence nuclear magnetic resonance and gel permeation chromatrography revealed that soluble oligomers are formed via solvolysis, followed by further fragmentation on the catalyst surface via hydrogenolysis. Overall, the results show that clear trade-offs exist between the levels of lignin extraction, monomer yields, and carbohydrate retention in the residual solids for different RCF conditions of corn stover.« less
  • One of the foremost challenges in lignocellulose conversion encompasses the integration of effective lignin valorization in current carbohydrate-oriented biorefinery schemes. Catalytic reductive fractionation (CRF) of lignocellulose offers a technology to simultaneously produce lignin-derived platform chemicals and a carbohydrate-enriched pulp via the combined action of lignin solvolysis and metal-catalyzed hydrogenolysis. Herein, the solvent (composition) plays a crucial role. In this contribution, we study the influence of alcohol/water mixtures by processing poplar sawdust in varying MeOH/water and EtOH/water blends. The results show particular effects that strongly depend on the applied water concentration. Low water concentrations enhance the removal of lignin from themore » biomass, while the majority of the carbohydrates are left untouched (scenario A). Contrarily, high water concentrations favor the solubilization of both hemicellulose and lignin, resulting in a more pure cellulosic residue (scenario B). For both scenarios, an evaluation was made to determine the most optimal solvent composition, based on two earlier introduced empirical efficiency descriptors (denoted LFDE and LFFE). According to these measures, 30 (A) and 70 vol % water (B) showed to be the optimal balance for both MeOH/water and EtOH/water mixtures. This successful implementation of alcohol/water mixtures allows operation under milder processing conditions in comparison to pure alcohol solvents, which is advantageous from an industrial point of view.« less
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  • In this study, comprehensive understanding of biomass solubilization chemistry in aqueous pretreatment such as water-only and dilute acid flowthrough pretreatment is of fundamental importance to achieve the goal of valorizing biomass to fermentable sugars and lignin for biofuels production. In this study, poplar wood was flowthrough pretreated by water-only or 0.05% (w/w) sulfuric acid at different temperatures (220–270 °C), flow rate (25 mL/min), and reaction times (8–90 min), resulting in significant disruption of the lignocellulosic biomass. Ion chromatography (IC), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis, and solid state cross-polarization/magic angle spinning (CP/MAS) 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)more » spectroscopy were applied to characterize the pretreated biomass whole slurries in order to reveal depolymerization as well as solubilization mechanism and identify unique dissolution structural features during these pretreatments. Results showed temperature-dependent cellulose decrystallization in flowthrough pretreatment. Crystalline cellulose was completely disrupted, and mostly converted to amorphous cellulose and oligomers by water-only operation at 270 °C for 10 min and by 0.05 wt % H 2SO 4 flowthrough pretreatment at 220 °C for 12 min. Flowthrough pretreatment with 0.05% (w/w) H 2SO 4 led to a greater disruption of structures in pretreated poplar at a lower temperature compared to water-only pretreatment.« less