Renewable Diesel Blendstocks and Biopriviliged Chemicals Distilled from Algal Biocrude Oil Converted via Hydrothermal Liquefaction

This study aims to produce renewable diesel and biopriviliged chemicals from microalgae that can thrive in wastewater environment. Spirulina (SP) was converted into biocrude oil at 300ºC for a 30-minute reaction time via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). Next, fractional distillation was used to separate SP-derived biocrude oil into different distillates. It was found that 62% of the viscous SP-derived biocrude oil can be separated into liquids at about 270ºC (steam temperature of the distillation). Physicochemical characterizations, including density, viscosity, acidity, elemental compositions, higher heating values and chemical compositions, were carried out with the distillates separated from SP-derived biocrude oil. These analyses showed that 15% distillates could be used as renewable diesel because they have similar heating values (43-46 MJ/kg) and carbon numbers (ranging from C8 to C18) to petroleum diesel. The Van Krevelan diagram of the distillates suggests that deoxygenation was effectively achieved by fractional distillation. In addition, GC-MS analysis indicates that some distillates contain biopriviliged chemicals like aromatics, phenols and fatty nitriles that can be used as commodity chemicals. An algal biorefinery roadmap was proposed based on the analyses of different distillates from the SP-derived biocrude oil. Finally, the fuel specification analysis was conducted with the drop-in renewable diesel, which was prepared with 10 vol.% (HTL10) distillates and 90 vol.% petroleum diesel. According to the fuel specification analysis, HTL10 exhibited a qualified lubricity (<520 µm), acidity (<0.3 mg KOH/g) and oxidation stability (>6 hr), as well as a comparable net heat of combustion (1% lower), ash content (29% lower) and viscosity (17% lower) to those of petroleum diesel. Ultimately, it is expected that this study can provide insights for potential application of algal biocrude oil converted via HTL.