Title

A Systematic Investigation into the Hydrothermal Degradation of Biomass as an Alternative Hydrocarbon Fuel Source

Presenter Information

Nathaniel Cartre

Department

Chemistry

Major

Chemical Engineering

Research Advisor

Woelk, Klaus

Advisor's Department

Chemistry

Funding Source

Missouri S&T Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE) Program; MS&T Energy Research and Development Center

Abstract

Biomass is viewed as a renewable and carbon-efficient energy source, and multiple procedures have been designed to harness the energy stored in these molecules. In this study, the mechanism of hydrothermal biomass degradation to form valuable synthetic-fuel precursor molecules was investigated. Using D-glucose as the model substrate, hydrothermal degradation experiments were conducted in a glass pressure vessel with samples taken periodically at a reaction temperature of 150°C. The primary reaction products are 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF), formic acid (FA), 4-oxopentoic acid (levulenic acid or LA), and methane, as identified quantitatively by 1H-NMR spectroscopy. As a continuation of a previous project, this study determined the effect of various catalysts on the formation of the degradation products in an attempt to identify methods of maximizing the formation of 5-HMF, the more valuable precursor chemical for synthetic fuel production, while minimizing FA and LA. The unprecedented formation of methane is also being investigated to determine its mechanism of production during the hydrothermal degradation reaction. Furthermore, it is the goal of this project to investigate the reduction of 5-HMF via electrolysis in order to demonstrate complete production of synthetic fuel.

Biography

Nathan Carter is a senior in Chemical Engineering at Missouri S&T from St. Louis, MO. Upon his graduation in May 2010, Nathan will have earned minors in Spanish, Chemistry, and Physics, and will have participated in the equivalent of more than 10 semesters of undergraduate research in the areas of renewable alternative fuels and polymers for biomedical devices. Nathan’s work experience includes a summer 2009 internship at Williams Energy Services in Tulsa, OK, and one year as the Head Peer Learning Assistant for the Missouri S&T Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines (LEAD) program. In addition, Nathan will spend the summer of 2010 as a Research Engineer Intern at Argonne National Laboratory before beginning graduate school in the fall to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering. Nathan has held numerous leadership positions during his undergraduate tenure and is a member of the Missouri S&T inline hockey team.

Research Category

Sciences

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Award

Sciences oral presentation, First place

Location

Carver Room

Presentation Date

07 Apr 2010, 9:00 am - 9:30 am

Comments

Joint project with Megan Oldroyd

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Apr 7th, 9:00 AM Apr 7th, 9:30 AM

A Systematic Investigation into the Hydrothermal Degradation of Biomass as an Alternative Hydrocarbon Fuel Source

Carver Room

Biomass is viewed as a renewable and carbon-efficient energy source, and multiple procedures have been designed to harness the energy stored in these molecules. In this study, the mechanism of hydrothermal biomass degradation to form valuable synthetic-fuel precursor molecules was investigated. Using D-glucose as the model substrate, hydrothermal degradation experiments were conducted in a glass pressure vessel with samples taken periodically at a reaction temperature of 150°C. The primary reaction products are 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF), formic acid (FA), 4-oxopentoic acid (levulenic acid or LA), and methane, as identified quantitatively by 1H-NMR spectroscopy. As a continuation of a previous project, this study determined the effect of various catalysts on the formation of the degradation products in an attempt to identify methods of maximizing the formation of 5-HMF, the more valuable precursor chemical for synthetic fuel production, while minimizing FA and LA. The unprecedented formation of methane is also being investigated to determine its mechanism of production during the hydrothermal degradation reaction. Furthermore, it is the goal of this project to investigate the reduction of 5-HMF via electrolysis in order to demonstrate complete production of synthetic fuel.