Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development of an integrated catalytic process for upgrading of bio-oil produced by pyrolysis of solid renewables

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.09  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering  Ecological technology 

Code Science Field
T350  Technological sciences  Chemical technology and engineering 

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
renewable resources, fuel synthesis, pyrolysis, catalytic cracking, heterogeneous catalysts, bio-oil, pilot reactor unit, process intensification
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  35886  PhD Moom Sinn Aw  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2015  42 
2.  31320  PhD Nataša Belšak Šel  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2016  79 
3.  17283  Špela Božič    Technical associate  2013 - 2016  38 
4.  11243  PhD Štefan Čelan  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  296 
5.  11194  PhD Andreja Drolc  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  408 
6.  14980  PhD Dušan Klinar  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  178 
7.  34045  PhD Anja Kostevšek  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2014  80 
8.  29336  PhD Ilja Gasan Osojnik Črnivec  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013  228 
9.  11874  PhD Albin Pintar  Engineering sciences and technologies  Head  2013 - 2016  824 
10.  20043  PhD Aleksandra Pivec  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  107 
11.  20089  PhD Klavdija Rižnar  Engineering sciences and technologies  Researcher  2013 - 2016  131 
12.  03588  PhD Tatjana Tišler  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2013 - 2016  370 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  20,953 
2.  1421  Scientific research Centre Bistra Ptuj  Ptuj  5844975000  646 
Considering the facts that the reserves of fossil fuels are rapidly diminishing, while we are at the same time witnessing a growing demand for energy and fuels, it is obvious that we need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and also the emission of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide) with gradual switching to renewable sources, biofuels and wastes. The basic thermochemical process for conversion (and energetical enrichment) of substrates from renewable sources is pyrolysis, performance of which can be significantly improved by upgrading with the heterogeneously catalyzed processes. In the proposed applied research project, we will develop and study a novel and modern integrated process for the production of gas products and light bio-oil from the substrates from renewable sources. The process will consist of two stages, i.e.: (i) pyrolysis of substrates from renewable sources (sawmill residues, trimmings) and solid waste with a defined chemical composition (waste plastic) for the production of crude bio-oil; (ii) the catalytic cracking of obtained crude bio-oil, which will be transformed into gas products and volatile (light) fractions of bio-oil with desirable properties. To efficiently carry out the catalytic cracking process, we will synthesize multifunctional and mesoporous oxide catalysts with high BET specific surface area by utilizing advanced catalyst preparation procedures. The synthesis of these solids will be based on transition metals (e.g. Ni, Co, V, Fe) using refractory and chemically very stable oxide supports (such as CeO2, TiO2, ZrO2-TiO2 and ZrO2-CeO2), which will at the simultaneous removal of oxygen (i.e. deoxygenation) allow rapid and selective conversion of crude bio-oil into (C5 products with desirable characteristics (low water content, low acidity and viscosity, and a higher calorific value with respect to the feed stream). Due to negligible extent of coking of the catalyst surface, these solids will enable long-term operation of the reactor unit, without the need for catalyst regeneration. The latter will in turn allow a simplified design of the reactor system for bio-oil cracking. The activity and selectivity of synthesized catalysts in the process of catalytic cracking of bio-oil (produced by the process of pyrolysis of selected substrates from renewable sources) will be studied in different laboratory-scale reactor systems. In this way, we will obtain detailed kinetic and mechanistic data and isolate the most suitable catalyst formulation for the process under consideration. Based on the acquired data, we will determine the most suitable reactor type to conduct catalytic cracking of crude bio-oil. A comprehensive documentation will be prepared to design a pilot plant for the pyrolysis of substrates from renewable sources, and catalytic cracking of the resulting bio-oil. A pilot-scale unit consisting of integrated sub-processes of pyrolysis and catalytic cracking aimed for the energetical enrichment of bio-oil produced from renewable substrates, will be constructed and tested at the premises of the industrial partner (co-financing the proposed applied research project). Experiments carried out in the pilot-scale reactor system will enable us to test long-term behavior of the catalyst and to check consistency of the results of measurements (activity of a catalyst, composition and distribution of products) with measurements performed in the laboratory-scale reactor systems.
Significance for science
Knowledge available so far in the field of catalytic pyrolysis of various substrates was deficient, especially in terms of synthesis of such heterogeneous catalysts, which would not necessitate (often) regeneration. This knowledge was enriched on the basis of discoveries and experience gained through the realization of applied research project. We synthesized sustainable catalysts, which enable long-term operation of reactor units and thus to effectively and economically conduct catalytic pyrolysis of substrates from renewable sources and solid wastes. The content of the applied research project is original in the following areas: (1) novel and advanced catalytic materials were synthesized and tested that allow cracking of substrates without the regeneration; (2) the final product (pyrolysis oil) exhibits appropriate characteristics for a direct use; (3) the reactor system for catalytic pyrolysis of various substrates was designed accordingly to the previously isolated optimal catalyst. In the field of catalytic pyrolysis we significantly expanded body of knowledge, regarding the design of appropriate catalysts, their effective application in the real process as well as mathematical modelling of the pyrolysis process. Subsequently, we certainly upgraded the existing knowledge of chemical engineering discipline. Knowledge gained during the implementation of the applied research project, enable therefore much simpler and more efficient exploitation of biomass and solid wastes, which have been so far largely ignored and exploited very inefficiently. The principal method of disseminating the results of this applied project was through published papers in leading refereed international journals devoted to energy, catalysis and chemical engineering. The mechanism by which transfer of knowledge took place involved presentations at national and international conferences and contributions to databases.
Significance for the country
With the development of processes and technologies for the thermal utilization of biomass and alternative fuels of local origin we strengthen competitiveness of companies and various energy dependent industries and national effort toward the replacement of fossil fuels and sustainable development in the energy sector. We develop new products with high added value, which are competitive in the world market and at the same time increase opportunities for investment in the domestic market. Heterogeneous catalysts are an essential component in the technology of thermal processing of biomass and alternative fuels for the replacement of fossil fuels. With the development of advanced catalysts for the use in our own process we enable the development and production of materials of the highest added value. With the development of the catalysts for improvement the selectivity of the process for thermal degradation of organic compounds in the direction of the desired products and catalytic converters to reduce emissions at end users of fuel in CHP cogeneration units we directly contribute to emissions reduction and protection of the environment. By including the development of catalysts we expand the complexity of our supply, what broaden and upgrade our supply of technology and process equipment. Technologies utilizing local and renewable fuel sources are becoming a key factor in the competitiveness of industries and play an important role in order to increase economic activity. By developing our own technologies we enable the competitive provision of new technological solutions and the increased use of local energy sources. Catalysts play a very important role in this process, either in the reaction part (i.e. thermal decomposition) to selectively conduct reactions, or in the combustion part aimed to reduce emissions. Relevance of the performed applied project is high, since minimizing energy dependence on fossil fuels is a national and also global need. This is especially important for countries like Slovenia, which are well forested and provide an ample source of biomass from annual trimmings. At the same time, this project encouraged collaboration between Slovenian scientists and industrial partners, which could eventually lead in the future to successful commercialization of catalytic formulations and knowledge accumulated therein.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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