Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass to Bio-oil and Hydroprocessing to Liquid Fuels

Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass to Bio-oil and Hydroprocessing to Liquid Fuels

Douglas C. Elliott

Energy Biosciences Institute Seminar

Berkeley, California

March 12, 2013



Fast pyrolysis of biomass for bio-oil production is a direct route to renewable liquid fuels, which can be infrastructure compatible.  In order to produce hydrocarbon liquids, the fast pyrolysis bio-oil is upgraded by catalytic hydrotreatment.  This presentation will provide background on typical fast pyrolysis processing and the conditions to maximize bio-oil production.  A comparison of bio-oil and petroleum fuel will be made and the unwanted characteristics of bio-oil described.  The important questions of what kind and what degree of bio-oil upgrading that are of interest will be discussed.

The bench-scale continuous-flow catalytic hydrotreatment system at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be described and some results provided.  The new developments including ebullated-bed bio-oil hydroprocessing and the scale-up of fixed bed catalytic hydrotreatment will be covered as well as an update on the UOP/DOE Integrated Biorefinery Demonstration at Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii.  The distributed pyrolysis and centralized bio-oil upgrading concept will be presented.

New alternatives in biomass liquefaction will then be presented including catalytic pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction.  Hydrothermal liquefaction of algal feedstocks and catalytic hydrothermal gasification for nutrient recycle will be discussed.  Results with micro-algae, both lipid-extracted algae and whole algae biomass, will be presented.




Mr. Elliott has over 35 years of research and project management experience in the Battelle system at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). His work has mainly been directed toward development of fuels and chemicals from biomass and waste. His experience is primarily in high-pressure batch and continuous-flow processing reactor systems. This research has also involved him in extensive study of catalyst systems. In addition to process development, chemical and physical analysis has also been a significant part of his work. While at Battelle, Mr. Elliott’s research has involved such subject areas as biomass liquefaction and hydroprocessing of product oils, catalytic hydrothermal gasification of wet biomass and wastewaters, and chemicals production from renewable sources. His work in biomass liquefaction has involved him in International Energy Agency Bioenergy tasks as the representative for the U.S. and currently as the leader of the Task 34 on Pyrolysis. He has made outstanding contributions to converting wood, corn stover, and other agricultural residues and biomass materials into intermediate products and finished fuels and chemicals. He also has extensive experience with coal and waste processing.