Biomass to Hydrogen via Fast Pyrolysis and Catalytic Steam Reforming of the Pyrolysis Oil or Its Fractions

D. Wang, S. Czernik, D. Montané, M. Mann, E. Chornet

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Pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass and reforming of the pyroligneous oils are being studied as a strategy for producing hydrogen. A process of this nature has the potential to be cost competitive with conventional means of producing hydrogen. We propose a regionalized system of hydrogen production, where small- and medium-sized pyrolysis units (<500 Mg/day) provide bio-oil to a central reforming unit to be catalytically converted to H2 and CO2. Thermodynamic modeling of the major constituents of the bio-oil has shown that reforming is possible within a wide range of temperatures and steam-to-carbon ratios. In addition, screening tests aimed at catalytic reforming of model compounds to hydrogen using Ni-based catalysts have achieved essentially complete conversion to H2. Existing data on the catalytic reforming of oxygenates have been studied to guide catalyst selection. A process diagram for the pyrolysis and reforming operations is discussed, as are initial production cost estimates. A window of opportunity clearly exists if the bio-oil is first refined to yield valuable oxygenates so that only a residual fraction is used for hydrogen production.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1507-1518
Number of pages12
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-430-21999


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