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Catalytic processes towards the production of biofuels in a palm oil and oil palm biomass-based biorefinery

Chew, Thiam Leng, Bhatia, Subhash
Bioresource technology 2008 v.99 no.17 pp. 7911-7922
alkanes, biodiesel, biomass production, biorefining, catalysts, cracking, feedstocks, gases, gasification, hydrogen production, olefin, palm oils, processing stages, pyrolysis, Malaysia
In Malaysia, there has been interest in the utilization of palm oil and oil palm biomass for the production of environmental friendly biofuels. A biorefinery based on palm oil and oil palm biomass for the production of biofuels has been proposed. The catalytic technology plays major role in the different processing stages in a biorefinery for the production of liquid as well as gaseous biofuels. There are number of challenges to find suitable catalytic technology to be used in a typical biorefinery. These challenges include (1) economic barriers, (2) catalysts that facilitate highly selective conversion of substrate to desired products and (3) the issues related to design, operation and control of catalytic reactor. Therefore, the catalytic technology is one of the critical factors that control the successful operation of biorefinery. There are number of catalytic processes in a biorefinery which convert the renewable feedstocks into the desired biofuels. These include biodiesel production from palm oil, catalytic cracking of palm oil for the production of biofuels, the production of hydrogen as well as syngas from biomass gasification, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) for the conversion of syngas into liquid fuels and upgrading of liquid/gas fuels obtained from liquefaction/pyrolysis of biomass. The selection of catalysts for these processes is essential in determining the product distribution (olefins, paraffins and oxygenated products). The integration of catalytic technology with compatible separation processes is a key challenge for biorefinery operation from the economic point of view. This paper focuses on different types of catalysts and their role in the catalytic processes for the production of biofuels in a typical palm oil and oil palm biomass-based biorefinery.