Vapor-phase Stabilization of Biomass Pyrolysis Vapors Using Mixed-metal Oxide Catalysts

Mixed-metal oxides possess a wide range of tunability and show promise for catalytic stabilization of biomass pyrolysis products. For materials derived from layered double hydroxides, understanding the effect of divalent cation species and divalent/trivalent cation stoichiometric ratio on catalytic behavior is critical to their successful implementation. In this study, four mixed-metal oxide catalysts consisting of Al, Zn, and Mg in different stoichiometric ratios were synthesized and tested for ex-situ catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) using pine wood as feedstock. The catalytic activity and deactivation behavior of these catalysts were monitored in real-time using a lab-scale pyrolysis reactor and fixed catalyst bed coupled with a molecular beam mass spectrometer (MBMS), and data were analyzed by multivariate statistical approaches. In comparing Mg- and Zn-Al catalyst materials, we demonstrate that the Mg-Al materials possessed greater quantities of basic sites, which we attribute to their higher surface areas, and they produced upgraded pyrolysis vapors which contained less acids and more deoxygenated aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene and xylene. However, detrimental impacts on carbon yields were realized via decarbonylation and decarboxylation reactions and coke formation. Given that the primary goals of catalytic upgrading of bio-oil are deoxygenation, reduction of acidity, and high carbon yield, these results highlight both promising catalytic effects of mixed-metal oxide materials and opportunities for improvement.