Custom catalyst for biofuel

A catalyst that promises to clean up syngas for downstream fuel synthesis


What is it?

A catalyst created and patented by the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It's used in treating biomass to create ethanol and drop-in fuels through a gasification process.NREL calls it “a fluidizable tar reforming catalyst.” After creating it, NREL researchers worked with a team at CoorsTex to further refine the catalyst tomake it strong enough to stand up to fluidization, making it more viable for commercial use.

What does it do?

Typically gasification takes biomass and heats it
with steam and air to produce synthesis gas, or syngas. After the syngas goes through another catalytic process it is possible to make a number of biofuels and biochemicals. But the gasification process also creates undesirable tars that can foul the refining process so they must be removed first. The new catalyst avoids this step by converting tars into additional syngas ready for fuel synthesis.

Why does it matter?

“When you take the CoorsTek support and add our patented formulation, we can efficiently clean up the syngas for downstream fuel synthesis,” said NREL Principal Scientist Kim Magriniin a statement released by NREL. A decade’s work is to culminate this year when a biomass-to-ethanol process will be demonstrated at pilot scale to show the catalyst is ready for industry.


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