Development of catalysts for biofuels production

Concerns on the depletion of petroleum reserves and environmental risks associated to greenhouse gases emissions are driving the development of renewable and cleaner fuels to substitute fossil fuels. Lignocellulosic biomass is sustainable and widely available, and through pyrolysis processes at moderate temperature and in the absence of oxygen, can produce liquid, solid and gas products. However, traditional pyrolysis yields highly oxygenated bio-oil, which is unstable and low in energy content. Therefore, it requires upgrading in order to be competitive with conventional fuels. The use of heterogeneous catalysts such as zeolites has received increasing interest due to its ability to simultaneous pyrolyse biomass and remove oxygen by decarboxylation, decarbonylation and dehydration reactions. Since decarboxylation is more efficient compared to the other two O-removal routes, it is a priority to develop catalysts with high decarboxylation activity. This research project will focus on developing low-cost catalysts for the conversion of biomass into high density bio-oil. Solid state synthesis methods will be used to prepare the active materials. Catalytic activity will be then tested by TG-MS and chemisorption techniques, where the evolved gases will be analysed to determine the level of decarboxylation, decarbonylation and dehydration.

Supervisor name: 
Dr John Andresen
Supervisor and Deputy email addresses:

Related MSc programmes:

Project location: 
NS G39
Deputy name: 
Dr Amairo Sanna