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Hydrothermal Liquefaction Biocrude Compositions Compared to Petroleum Crude and Shale Oil

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-02-07, 00:00 authored by Jacqueline M. Jarvis, Justin M. Billing, Richard T. Hallen, Andrew J. Schmidt, Tanner M. Schaub
We provide a direct and detailed comparison of the chemical composition of petroleum crude oil (from the Gulf of Mexico), shale oil, and three biocrudes (i.e., clean pine, microalgae Chlorella sp., and sewage sludge feedstocks) generated by hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). Ultrahigh resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) reveals that HTL biocrudes are compositionally more similar to shale oil than petroleum crude oil and that only a few heteroatom classes (e.g., N1, N2, N1O1, and O1) are common to organic sediment- and biomass-derived oils. All HTL biocrudes contain a diverse range of oxygen-containing compounds when compared to either petroleum crude or shale oil. Overall, petroleum crude and shale oil are compositionally dissimilar to HTL oils, and >85% of the elemental compositions identified within the positive-ion electrospray (ESI) mass spectra of the HTL biocrudes were not present in either the petroleum crude or shale oil (>43% for negative-ion ESI). Direct comparison of the heteroatom classes that are common to both organic sediment- and biomass-derived oils shows that HTL biocrudes generally contain species with both smaller core structures and a lower degree of alkylation relative to either the petroleum crude or the shale oil. Three-dimensional plots of carbon number versus molecular double bond equivalents (with observed abundance as the third dimension) for abundant molecular classes reveal the specific relationship of the composition of HTL biocrudes to petroleum and shale oils to inform the possible incorporation of these oils into refinery operations as a partial amendment to conventional petroleum feeds.