BIOCATALYTIC FUNCTIONALIZATION OF PLANT LIPIDS
Location: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research
Title: Pyrolysis of lipids using various catalysts
Submitted to: Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 20, 2007
Publication Date: May 18, 2008
Citation: Compton, D.L., Jackson, M.A. 2008. Pyrolysis of lipids using various catalysts [abstract]. Annual Meeting and Expo of the American Oil Chemists' Society. p. 85.
A specific pursuit of the thermochemical (combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, and liquefaction) conversion of biomass to energy research effort is the potential of converting lipids to alkanes, petroleum-like fuels and chemicals. Arguments can be made for, and against, the use of agricultural lipids as a feed stock for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals. It is clear there is a paucity of data from which to add to, or detract from, either position. Pyrolysis heating of lipids, in the absence of oxygen, results in three product fractions: a trace amount of carbon char, a liquid fraction and a gas fraction. The liquid fraction represents the majority of the pyrolysis product and consists of mostly long and medium chain alkanes, while the gas fraction contains hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and very short chain alkanes and alkenes. To evaluate the potential of thermochemically derived fuels and chemicals from agricultural lipids, we developed equipment, instrumentation, and methods for the expedient analysis of pyrolysis reactions. This allowed for relatively high throughput screening and quantitative analysis of char, liquid and gas fractions. We investigated the use of commercially available catalysts in the vegetable oil pyrolysis reactions to affect char, liquid and gas production. Preliminary results showed the use of zeolite catalysts altered the liquid fraction of the pyrolysis, producing more aromatic compounds, such as toluene and naphthalene, as well as affecting the ratio of the gas species. We hope to continue the optimization of the pyrolysis reactions to yield desired products and value-added coproducts with the equipment and methods designed for small scale, high throughput and analysis.