Conversion Progress

Investigating the chemical composition of two important feedstocks produced in the southeast: pine and switchgrass. Genetics, growth environment, harvesting method, and storage conditions influence biomass chemical composition. Studying biomass composition is key to enabling commercialization of production of advanced fuels.


Conversion Milestones

  • Reduced ash content by as much as 0.5% in whole-tree chips via relatively simple methods of vibratory screening
  • Produced 1,000 gallons of "Green" Diesel via Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS), demonstrating technical feasibility of producing green diesel using IBSS-provided biomass from the region with industry partners
  • Supplied 1000 gallons of "Green" diesel to Southeast academic partners: 500 to Auburn University, 250 to North Carolina State University, and 250 to The University of Tennessee.
  • Provided flexible foundation for studying gasification processes with custom-built, continuous FTS reactor system for gas-phase, slurry-phase, and supercritical phase evaluations
  • Launched IBSS database to catalog regional biomass samples analyzed during the course of the program

Conversion Accomplishments

  • Forged research partnership with industry partner KiOR, the biofuel company that established a pilot plant in Pasadena, Texas and first production plant in Columbus, Mississippi.
  • Collaborated with KiOR and Rentech emphasized research on ash with regard to product yield and catalyst lifetime, identifying ash content as a "major challenge to commercial implementation."
  • Tested varying mechanical methods of screening and sorting to reduce ash content in whole-tree pine and hardwood chips
  • Studied performance of novel catalyst materials (layered double hydroxide precursors) on composition of biomass pyrolysis vapors using pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
  • Conducted biomass gasification studies on two platforms: downdraft gasifier and fluid bed.
  • Baseline data for syngas composition and contaminants were developed for contaminants such as ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen chloride.
  • Gasification studies were conducted at three different equivalence ratios: 0.15, 0.25 and 0.35, and at three different temperatures (600, 700 and 800oC) using southern pine biomass.
  • Synthesized and characterized Iron-based Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis catalysts suitable for use with IBSS syngas and associated contaminants.
  • Conducted systematic investigations of three different modes of Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis operation.
  • Determined effect of syngas composition and contaminant levels on Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis performance, and characterized performance relative to feed conversion, product selectivity, and yield of fuel-range hydrocarbons.
  • Performed comparative studies on supercritical Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS), gas-phase FTS, and slurry phase FTS using syngas compositions obtained during gasification studies of woody biomass
  • Established corresponding conversion levels, product selectivities, liquid product yield, and light gas product yield for gasification of woody biomass produced by IBSS
  • Quantified more than thirty compounds in tar.
  • Investigated upgrading of pyrolysis vapor with alternative catalysts to prevent degradation/contamination during processing.
  • Document Actions
    Recent Articles: Conversion
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