Milestone 4 achieved: Catalyst HDO development

December 2023

Involved partners: CSIC, TUE, VERT, BLOOM

Date of achievement of result: 09-2023

Lab-scale research at partners CSIC and TUE has identified a suitable solid catalyst for the hydrodeoxygenation of crude lignin oils into a biogenic heavy fuel oil (bio-HFO), at remarkably mild reaction conditions. The catalyst, in a granulometry format suitable for stirred tank reactor operation, has been acquired at multi-kg scale, and delivered to VER for process upscaling tasks.

  • Objective: The development of a solid catalyst suitable for the hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) of methanolic crude lignin oils into biogenic heavy fuel oil at particularly mild operation conditions.
  • Research: CSIC and TUE partners have performed substantial research at laboratory scale, i.e. ca. 10-30 mL tests, to identify suitable and scalable HDO solid catalysts. Research has covered the processing of different lignin-based feedstocks, representative for those produced through proprietary lignin depolymerization routes developed by project partners VERT and BLOOM.
  • Result: Research activities at these partners have identified a carbon-supported metal catalyst as the most suitable candidate for the HDO of methanolic crude lignin oils (CLO) which are produced by the solvothermal treatment of softwood (sawdust flour). Said CLO feed contains lignin oligomers as well as C5 sugars, and it was considered as obtained, without stripping of sugars nor additional purifications. Catalytic tests at laboratory scale indicate that, under optimized reaction conditions within the mild operational window set as target for the IDEALFUEL project, the HDO treatment significantly reduces both the average molecular weight and the oxygen content, by about 50% and 40%, respectively, relative to the starting crude lignin oil. Following solvent removal, the product showed physical properties which could potentially make it compatible with its application as a biogenic replacement for HFO in marine applications.
  • What will it be used for: The results and materials emerging from this research are further leveraged in the project to attempt the upscaling of the HDO process to bench and pre-pilot scales, targeting the production of bio-HFO in liter quantities.
  • Impact: The results are important as they set grounds for the demonstration of the production of the targeted lignin-derived renewable marine fuel at scales beyond laboratory level, and therefore promote the TRL of the process.