Process Intensification for Direct Conversion of Biomass-Based Syngas to High Octane Gasoline

Claire Nimlos, Connor Nash, Anh To, Dan Dupuis, Daniel Ruddy

Research output: NRELPresentation


The conversion of lignocellulosic-derived carbon sources via the creation of a CO2 rich syngas stream provides means to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels, with advancements intended to create a cost-competitive method of sequential conversion via methanol and dimethyl ether intermediates. Previously developed methods with Cu/Beta zeolites enabled the conversion of dimethyl ether to linear and branched hydrocarbons, with high selectivities towards products with high-octane fuel properties. Through process intensification, use of a single reactor to convert syngas to methanol and DME, then further to hydrocarbons, allows for reduced capitol and operation cost for the same chemistries that typically use 3 reactors instead of one. Utilization of commercially available methanol synthesis catalyst (Megamax 800, Clariant, CZA) and methanol dehydration catalyst with the Cu/Beta catalyst allowed for conversion into hydrocarbon products in this single reactor set up. Reactor configuration with CZA and alumina catalysts mixed with or stacked in a bed physically above the Cu/Beta catalyst provided a system for the direct conversion of the syngas to hydrocarbons with improved yields and selectivities with higher net C1 conversions for stacked bed configurations. Through control of the process conditions, greater conversion of C1 oxygenate intermediates (i.e., methanol and dimethyl ether) was achieved with concomitant increase in selectivities towards gasoline and jet fuel range olefin and paraffin products. Lower hydrocarbon number products and less naphthenes were observed for the conversion of syngas compared to DME conversion on only the Cu/Beta system with prominent selectivities observed for C4, C5, and C7 hydrocarbons. The DME and methanol formation rates, with understanding of the equilibria for both processes, were determined as important factors to allow for improved performance of the Cu/Beta. Determination of the factors which allow for tuning of selectivities and yields created an intensified process which allows for a "market-responsive" biorefinery design, which can produce high octane gasoline or jet fuel range hydrocarbons to meet demands for a more sustainable route to liquid fuels.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages54
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, 15-19 November 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-81468


  • catalysis
  • CO2
  • syngas
  • zeolite


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