A Perspective on Biomass-Derived Biofuels: From Catalyst Design Principles to Fuel Properties

Yeonjoon Kim, Anna Thomas, David Robichaud, Kristiina Iisa, Peter St. John, Brian Etz, Gina Fioroni, Abhijit Dutta, Robert McCormick, Calvin Mukarakate, Seonah Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus Citations


The hazards to health and the environment associated with the transportation sector include smog, particulate matter, and greenhouse gas emissions. Conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into biofuels has the potential to provide significant amounts of infrastructure-compatible liquid transportation fuels that reduce those hazardous materials. However, the development of these technologies is inefficient, due to: (i) the lack of a priori fuel property consideration, (ii) poor shared vocabulary between process chemists and fuel engineers, and (iii) modern and future engines operating outside the range of traditional autoignition metrics such as octane or cetane numbers. In this perspective, we describe an approach where we follow a “fuel-property first” design methodology with a sequence of (i) identifying the desirable fuel properties for modern engines, (ii) defining molecules capable of delivering those properties, and (iii) designing catalysts and processes that can produce those molecules from a candidate feedstock in a specific conversion process. Computational techniques need to be leveraged to minimize expenses and experimental efforts on low-promise options. This concept is illustrated with current research information available for biomass conversion to fuels via catalytic fast pyrolysis and hydrotreating; outstanding challenges and research tools necessary for a successful outcome are presented.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 123198
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-77292


  • Catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • Fast pyrolysis
  • Fuel testing standards
  • Fuel-property-first paradigm
  • Hydrotreating


Dive into the research topics of 'A Perspective on Biomass-Derived Biofuels: From Catalyst Design Principles to Fuel Properties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this