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Hydrotreating of Guaiacol and Acetic Acid Blends over Ni2P/ZSM‑5 Catalysts: Elucidating Molecular Interactions during Bio-Oil Upgrading

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journal contribution
posted on 05.12.2019, 09:29 authored by Santiago Gutiérrez-Rubio, Inés Moreno, David P. Serrano, Juan M. Coronado
Catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) is an effective technology for upgrading pyrolysis bio-oils. Although, in the past years, this process has been extensively studied, the relevance of the cross-reactivity between the numerous chemical components of bio-oil has been scarcely explored. However, molecular coupling can be beneficial for improving the bio-oil characteristics. With the aim of gaining a better understanding of these interactions, this work investigates the catalytic hydrodeoxygenation of mixtures of two typical components of pyrolysis bio-oils: guaiacol and acetic acid. The catalytic tests were carried out employing a bifunctional catalyst based on nickel phosphide (Ni2P) deposited over a commercial nanocrystalline ZSM-5 zeolite. The influence of both hydrogen availability and temperature on the activity and product distribution, was evaluated by carrying out reactions under different H2 pressures (40–10 bar) and temperatures (between 260 and 300 °C). Using blends of both substrates, a partial inhibition of guaiacol HDO occurred because of the competence of acetic acid for the catalytic active sites. Nevertheless, positive interactions were also observed, mainly esterification and acylation reactions, which could enhance the bio-oil stability by reducing acidity, lowering the oxygen content, and increasing the chain length of the components. In this respect, formation of acetophenones, which can be further hydrogenated to yield ethyl phenols, is of particular interest for biorefinery applications. Increasing the temperature results in an increment of conversion but a decrease in the yield of fully deoxygenated molecules due to the production of higher proportion of catechol and related products. Additional experiments performed in the absence of hydrogen revealed that esterification reactions are homogeneously self-catalyzed by acetic acid, while acylation processes are mainly catalyzed by the acidic sites of the zeolitic support.

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