Direct Conversion of Gasified Biomass to Long Alcohols in Solid Hybrid-Nanoparticles at the Liquid-Liquid Interface of Water/Oil Emulsions


A new reaction/separation technology was developed based on a family of recoverable nanohybrid catalysts that simultaneously stabilize emulsions in biphasic systems. These nanostructured solid particles show unique advantage in the streamlining of biomass synthesis gas to fuels, where the presence of tars greatly complicates purification procedures. These novel catalyst/emulsifier hybrids can catalyze reactions with high phase-selectivity either in the aqueous or organic phases. The amphiphilic-catalysts are obtained by fusing carbon nanotubes to metal-oxide particles, which results in a "Janus" like nanoparticle that is able to stabilize water/oil emulsions by forming a rigid film at liquid-liquid interface of the droplets, increasing the apparent viscosity of the system. In the aqueous phase, the tar molecules and small oxygenates can be extracted. Upon phase migration, these species react on the inorganic oxide, which may act both as the hydrophylic side of the emulsifier and as a condensation catalyst. Hence, it catalyzes condensation reactions in the aqueous phase, by which small oxygenates soluble in water, with low fuel value, condense via aldol-condensation, ketonization, or etherification. The resulting products are no longer water-soluble molecules and migrate to the organic phase. The oxide used can vary in acid/base characteristics (MgO and SiO2). Ruthenium clusters were anchored onto the hydrophobic carbon nanotubes of the nanohybrids to catalyze Fischer-Tropsch reactions to produce a significant fraction of long alcohols (C5-C15). The direct conversion of the entire gasified biomass in a biphasic liquid system could greatly simplify the processing of the synthesis gas obtained from biomass gasification, as it does not require the conditioning of the gas prior reaction.

Meeting Name

2012 AIChE Spring Meeting and 8th Global Congress on Process Safety (2012: Apr. 1-5, Houston, TX)


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

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Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2012

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