Advanced Spectrometric Methods for Characterizing Bio-Oils to Enable Refineries to Reduce Fuel Carbon Intensity During Co-Processing

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A promising approach for supplementing petroleum-derived fuels to support reductions in green-house gas emissions is to convert abundant biomass feedstocks into renewable carbon-rich oils using pyrolysis. However, the resultant bio-oils contain various oxygenated compounds that can impart acidity, chemical and thermal instability, and immiscibility with petroleum derived fuels, necessitating further upgrading to derive fuel blendstocks. Co-processing bio-oils and petroleum-derived liquids in existing refineries is a potentially near-term, cost-effective approach for upgrading bio-oils while reducing refinery carbon intensities. However, one cause for hesitation in co-processing bio-oils is limited comprehensive characterization and speciation of the bio-oil components. Advanced analytical techniques are currently under investigation to enable identification of elusive species in bio-oils, enabling researchers to develop strategies to mitigate catalyst deactivation agents and contaminants. This review provides a brief overview of several analytical methods commonly used to analyze bio-oils and their limitations. In addition, advanced techniques currently under development are discussed to further elucidate bio-oil components that may limit its end use. This will help inform the technical and economic feasibility of co-processing bio-oils with petroleum-derived liquids, therefore, improving the overall downstream processes for biofuels blendstock production.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Spectroscopy Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-79817


  • bio-oil
  • co-processing
  • gas chromatography
  • GCxGC
  • GPC
  • NMR
  • Pyrolysis


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