Multi-Pass Flow-Through Reductive Catalytic Fractionation

Jun Hee Jang, David Brandner, Reagan Dreiling, Arik Ringsby, Jeremy Bussard, Lisa Stanley, Renee Happs, Anjaneya Kovvali, Joshua Cutler, Tom Renders, James Bielenberg, Yuriy Roman-Leshkov, Gregg Beckham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus Citations


Reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) is a promising lignin-first biorefining strategy that selectively extracts and depolymerizes lignin from whole biomass. Flow-through (FT)-RCF enables physical separation of the biomass and catalyst, but this process configuration typically operates at high solvent-to-biomass ratios. Here, we demonstrate multi-pass FT-RCF, wherein the lignin-enriched solvent obtained after an initial FT-RCF step is recycled and used in subsequent FT-RCF without intermediate lignin recovery. Multi-pass FT-RCF reduces the solvent-to-biomass ratio from 48 to 1.9 L/kg, which is a lower solvent loading than is accessible in batch reactors, without negative impacts on delignification and monomer yield with up to 12 wt % lignin in the solvent. Overall, this work demonstrates that solvent demand in RCF processes, which is a key cost and energy driver to enable this process at scale, can be reduced by recycling lignin oil between RCF reactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1859-1875
Number of pages17
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-81807


  • flow-through
  • lignin valorization
  • lignocellulosic biomass
  • process intensification
  • reaction engineering
  • reductive catalytic fractionation
  • solvent recycling
  • solvent reduction


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