SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION OF BIOFUEL FROM LIGNOCELLULOSIC BIOMASS USING ZEOLITE CATALYSTS
Syed Hussain1, Wei Fan2.
1Lone Star College, The Woodlands, TX, 2University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA.
Biofuels have been proposed as an alternative to fossil fuel due to environmental concerns, but clearing forest, grasslands, and wetlands to produce food-crop-based biofuel only contributes to carbon emission. Developing a sustainable and productive process to convert lignocellulosic biomass from agricultural, yard, and forest residue to biofuel will provide a great carbon-neutral energy source. Bio-oil transformed from this biomass can further be upgraded to long hydrocarbon chains using the aldol condensation reaction of acetone and furfural in the presence of a catalyst. Heterogeneous catalysts such as zeolite have proven to be very successful in the petrochemical industry. Therefore, we investigated 3 different types of zeolites based on their compounds and structural framework to determine the best catalyst for this reaction. Our experimental analysis on the reactivity of these zeolites using gas chromatography revealed that tin-based zeolites with BEA framework (Sn-BEA) gave the greatest conversion rate, high turnover frequency, and low activation energy. However, product selectivity in Sn-BEA decreased with time as compared to other specimens. Our results suggest that, due to the high reactivity, dimerization of the desired product is occurring. Our goal is to understand how different compounds and pore sizes in zeolites affect the reaction system and to suggest the characteristics of a better zeolite for future synthesis. Therefore, a more thorough study on Sn-BEA zeolites is needed to understand the dependant variables in the process in order to achieve a greater product yield.