Sustainable Aviation Fuel via Hydroprocessing of Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis Oil

Kristiina Iisa, Earl Christensen, Kellene Orton, Calvin Mukarakate, Michael Griffin, Kristin Smith, Katie Gaston, Luke Tuxworth, Mike Watson

Research output: NRELPresentation


Cycloalkanes have been identified as a promising alternative for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in a recent US Department of Energy Review of Technical Pathways to SAF. Cycloalkanes can provide desirable SAF properties, including energy density, and, in addition, they may be able to provide necessary seal swelling and leakage protection and replace undesirable aromatics in aviation fuel. Catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) followed by hydroprocessing constitutes a platform well suited for converting biomass to cycloalkanes. CFP oils are rich in phenolic compounds and, depending on CFP catalyst, in aromatic hydrocarbons, which can both be hydrogenated to form cycloalkanes. In this work, we report results from hydroprocessing of two types of CFP oil to produce fractions boiling in the sustainable aviation fuel range and meeting tested aviation fuel specifications. CFP oils prepared over a zeolite catalyst (ZSM-5) and a hydrodeoxygenation catalyst (Pt/TiO2) were hydroprocessed over a sulfided NiMo/Al2O3 catalyst in a two-stage process (1st stage ~250 degrees C and 2nd stage 385 degrees C) in a continuous trickle-bed hydrotreater. The hydrotreated product contained 39-40% material boiling in the SAF range by distillation with a carbon efficiency of 36-37% from CFP oil to SAF fraction. The SAF fractions consisted of 82-87% of cycloalkanes, had non-detectable oxygen contents and lower heating values (LHV) above the jet fuel minimum limit of 42.8 MJ/kg. The SAF-range product also had acceptable volatility and freeze and flash points per aviation fuel specifications. The results suggest a promising pathway for SAF production via the catalytic fast pyrolysis pathway. Methods to enhance the yield of SAF will be discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the tcbiomass Conference, 19-21 April 2022, Denver, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-82696


  • biomass
  • catalytic fast pyrolysis
  • hydrotreating
  • jet
  • NiMo
  • sustainable aviation fuel


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