Steam reforming of pyrolysis oil using nickel-spinel based catalysis

Conference Dates

June 19-24, 2016


Introduction – Rationale

In many areas worldwide, electricity is mainly produced using fuelled generators or as a supplementary power source. The energy efficiency of those units is typically below 30% excluding production and distribution costs. Replacing the fossil fuels used in electricity production with biofuels will allow for lower carbon print, although the amount of biomass available may not be sufficient in arid areas such as the Canadian arctic. It is therefore necessary to reduce the consumption of the propellant by the unit. Fuel cells, which reach an efficiency of 65%, reduce the amount of fuel required by half. Fuel cells do not use liquid fuels directly, but rather a reformer is included to the device to reform the biofuel into syngas or hydrogen-rich syngas. The challenge with reforming complex molecules into syngas lies with carbon deposition. For example, Chen et al.1 tested the La1-xKxMnO3 catalyst, while Xing et al.2 performed catalysis of Co, Ni and Rh over MgAl2O4 for steam reforming of pyrolytic oil from vegetal and both observed carbon deposition.

This work focuses on the steam reforming of pyrolytic oils originating from plastic and vegetal materials as biofuels. A comparison is drawn between the behavior of (a) a nickel-alumina spinel catalyst mixed with yttrium oxide stabilized zirconia (YSZ), and (b) a catalyst made of mine wastes (known as UGS), impregnated with nickel. The NiAl2O4-YSZ catalyst used in this study has already been tested for steam reforming of diesel3-5 and other liquid hydrocarbons6 and dry reforming of methane7-8 while the Ni-UGS catalyst has been tested for dry and steam reforming of methane9.

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