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Extending biomass catalyst life by removing minerals

By Scott Jenkins |

Anellotech Inc.’s (Pearl River, N.Y.; www.anellotech.com) biomass-to-aromatics (Bio-TCat) process pyrolyzes woody biomass and converts the pyrolysis gases to aromatic hydrocarbons using zeolite catalysts in one reactor (see Chem. Eng., March 2016, p. 7; www.chemengonline.com/anellotech-receives-investment-for-bio-based-btx-development-plant). Pyrolysis is the rapid decomposition of organic material at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen. Anellotech has used forest products as feedstocks for its pyrolysis process in part because of their low mineral content. Minerals present in biomass can deactivate zeolite catalysts, reducing catalyst lifetimes. Now, Anellotech has developed a low-cost pretreatment technology that removes minerals from biomass, significantly extending catalyst lifetimes when processing wood, and greatly expanding the range of biomass raw materials that can be used for its aromatics process. The patent-pending process, known as MinFree, “allows us to use a broad range of non-food biomass, including inexpensive agricultural residues like corn stover or sugarcane bagasse, that have higher mineral contents,” explains David Sudolsky, CEO of Anellotech. The company and its partners have successfully produced…
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