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A more efficient way to upgrade lignin bio-oils

By Mary Page Bailey |

Lignin bio-oil is a common waste stream formed during the production of cellulose and ethanol from biomass. Due to its high oxygen and low hydrogen content, lignin bio-oil must be upgraded via hydrogenation and deoxygenation before it can be used as a fuel. Furthermore, because of the very low hydrogen solubility in water and high activation energy of deoxygenation, lignin bio-oil upgrading typically requires processing at very high temperatures and hydrogen pressures. Now, a team of scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.; www.gatech.edu), led by professor Yulin Deng, has studied a solution-based, dual-catalyst system for combined hydrogenation and deoxygenation of lignin bio-oil that operates at ambient conditions (diagram). They found that polyoxometalate acid (SiW12) can react with H2, transfer H+ to water, and release hydrogen as an active species inside the water in the presence of a platinum-based catalyst. The team also observed that SiW12 can significantly reduce the activation energy of deoxygenation. As a result, SiW12 can act as both a hydrogen-transfer agent and a deoxygenation catalyst, which overcomes issues associated with hydrogen’s low solubility in water at low pressures and the high activation…
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