Intensified production of renewable fuels based on fundamental thermodynamics and elementary kinetics

01 October 2017 → 30 September 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
renewable fuels
Project description

As fossil resources are depleting fast due to the increasing world population and associated energy

and chemicals demand, it is of strategic importance to search for renewable alternatives.

Lignocellulosic biomass is a promising renewable resource which can be converted into jet and

diesel fuels as well as chemicals via routes that include aldol condensation and hydrogenation

reactions. At present, at the industrial scale, aldol condensations are typically catalyzed by

homogeneous catalysts. However, in a pursuit of more sustainable chemical processes,

heterogeneous, i.e., solid, catalysts are desired. Additionally, hydrogenations are, typically,

catalyzed using materials containing precious metals which should be replaced with less expensive


This research proposal aims at revolutionizing the bio-refinery in general and the production of

renewable fuels and chemicals via aldol condensations and hydrogenations in particular. The

thermodynamic non-ideality of biomass based components will be elucidated which is essential for

the adequate description of processes involving these species. Zirconium carbonate and Ni based

catalysts will be investigated as potential alternative catalysts for aldol condensations and

hydrogenations, respectively. The reaction mechanisms will be elucidated using kinetic modelling

and a lab scale demonstration unit will be built. Finally, an intensified bio-refinery process scheme

will be drafted.