Biomass Catalytic Pyrolysis on Ni/ZSM-5: Effects of Nickel Pretreatment and Loading

Matthew Yung, Anne Starace, Calvin Mukarakate, Kimberly Magrini, Allison Crow, Marissa Leshnov

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105 Scopus Citations


In this work, Ni/ZSM-5 catalysts with varied nickel loadings were evaluated for their ability to produce aromatic hydrocarbons by upgrading of pine pyrolysis vapors. The effect of catalyst pretreatment by hydrogen reduction was also investigated. Results indicate that the addition of nickel increases the yield of aromatic hydrocarbons while simultaneously increasing the conversion of oxygenates, relative to ZSM-5, and these effects are more pronounced with increasing nickel loading. Additionally, while initial activity differences were observed between the oxidized and reduced forms of nickel on ZSM-5 (i.e., NiO/ZSM-5 versus Ni/ZSM-5), the activity of both catalysts converges with increasing time on stream. These reaction results coupled with characterization of pristine and spent catalysts suggest that the catalysts reach similar active states during catalytic pyrolysis, regardless of pretreatment, as NiO undergoes in situ reduction to Ni by biomass pyrolysis vapors. This reduction of NiO to Ni was confirmed by reaction results and characterization by NH3 temperature-programmed desorption, temperature-programmed reduction, and X-ray diffraction. This finding is significant in that the ability to reduce or eliminate the need for a pre-reaction H2 reduction of Ni-modified zeolite catalysts could reduce process complexity and operating costs in a biorefinery-based vapor-phase upgrading process to produce biomass-derived fuels and chemicals. The ability to monitor catalyst activity in real time with a molecular beam mass spectrometer used to measure uncondensed, hot pyrolysis vapors allows for an improved understanding of the mechanism for improved activity with Ni addition to ZSM-5, which is attributed to the ability to prevent deactivation by deposition of coke and capping of zeolite micropores.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5259-5268
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number7
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© This article not subject to U.S. Copyright. Published 2016 by the American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-66483


  • aromatic hydrocarbons
  • nickel loadings
  • pine pyrolysis vapors


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