Fuel Property-Informed Process Design for the Direct Catalytic Conversion of Cellulosics

Nabila Huq, Hannah Nguyen, Daniela Stuck, Stephen Tifft, Derek Vardon

Research output: NRELPresentation


The direct catalytic conversion of cellulosics (DC3) with supercritical methanol presents a promising pathway to completely solubilize woody biomass and produce >60% mass yield of C2-C6 oxygenates for light duty vehicle applications. Although the oxygenate composition can be tuned by modifying catalyst and process conditions, limited efforts to date have examined DC3 fuel properties for light duty fuel applications to iteratively inform conversion process design. In this work, we designed and evaluated multi-component surrogate bioblendstocks that represent major DC3 light oxygenates and refined catalyst formulations and distillation parameters to improve the resulting light duty fuel quality. Surrogate design for this novel fuel production pathway was based on a preliminary product slate that was systematically adjusted to determine impacts on fuel properties of interest including heating value, oxidative stability, and heat of vaporization, among others. The resulting predictions and measurements of these surrogates were then used to inform improvement of conversion process, and specifically, reformulation of the catalyst which resulted in production of a higher energy density fuel product primarily comprised of saturated alcohols. Fuel testing outcomes also informed downstream oxygenate separations requirements. This resulted in the production of a promising DC3 light-duty fuel blendstock with >15% greater energy density relative to ethanol, while maintaining high octane number and octane sensitivity.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at the ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting, 17-20 August 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-77594


  • fuels
  • vehicles


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