Isotopic Studies for Tracking Biogenic Carbon During Co-Processing of Biomass and Vacuum Gas Oil

Calvin Mukarakate, Kellene Orton, Yeonjoon Kim, Carrie Farberow, Seon Ah Kim, Robert Baldwin, Kimberly Magrini, Stefano Dell'Orco, MIchael Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus Citations


Co-processing bio-oils with petroleum-derived feeds in the existing multitrillion dollar refining and distribution infrastructure is an attractive option for introducing renewable energy into the fuels marketplace. Considerable research on co-processing bio-oils and vacuum gas oil (VGO) in fluid catalytic cracking units (FCC) using equilibrium catalysts (E-Cats) demonstrated that biomass-derived molecules decreased activity of and increased carbon laydown on E-Cat. In this work, 13C-labeled biomass was co-processed with VGO using either an E-Cat or a proprietary zeolite Johnson Matthey catalyst (CP758), which is optimzed for upgrading biomass vapors in a riser reactor, to evaluate the fate of biogenic carbon in FCC products. The results from both catalysts indicate that biogenic carbon was incorporated into alkenes and aromatic hydrocarbons. While no biogenic carbon was found in linear alkanes, it was observed in cycloalkanes during experiments with E-Cat but not with CP758. All produced CO2 was biogenic as was most of the carbon laydown on the catalysts. Several partially deoxygenated biomass compounds, such as alkylphenols and benzofurans, unexpectedly contained small amounts of carbon from VGO. Although this study was conducted with labeled biomass and not bio-oil, it provides insights to reaction mechanisms for co-processing bio-oil and VGO in an FCC, which is required to develop catalysts that efficiently convert bio-oil components during FCC co-processing. This work also demonstrates that comprehensive catalyst development utilizing both biomass- and fossil-derived feeds is required to maximize the incorporation of biogenic carbon into transportation fuels.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2652-2664
Number of pages13
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-75250


  • C tracking
  • Bio-oils
  • Biogenic carbon
  • Co-processing
  • Fluid catalytic cracking
  • Mass spectroscopy


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