Separation of High Purity Oxygenated Aromatics from Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis Organic Streams

Joseph Roback, Nolan Wilson, Mark Nimlos

Research output: NRELPoster


Thermochemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass offers an attractive route to produce fuels and chemicals. Specifically, catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) oils have been shown to contain a high concentration of oxygenated aromatics, which can be isolated as value-added co-products. Purification of oxygenated aromatics can be a viable pathway to more economically competitive biorefineries, yet the isolation of highly pure coproduct streams remains technically challenging due to the high chemical heterogeneity of thermochemical process steams. Here, we demonstrate an industrially scalable process for isolating phenol, a widely used precursor to plastics, from CFP oil. Importantly, we leverage standard industrial processes, such as distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, and crystallization, to achieve phenol with 97% purity. In addition, the primary distillation of the CFP oil yielded several other fractions that contain chemicals with the potential to be isolated (e.g. cyclic ketones, cresols, and guaiacols). This work provides a technically feasible path to high purity oxygenated aromatics that has the potential to offset fuel production costs in a biorefinery.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePresented at the tcbiomassplus2019, 7-9 October 2019, Rosemont, Illinois

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5100-75002


  • co-products
  • phenol
  • pyrolysis


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