Removal of Char Particles From Bio-Oil by Liquid-Phase Microfiltration

Wednesday, November 10, 2010: 8:55 AM
Grand Ballroom F (Marriott Downtown)
Asad Javaid1, Xiaoming Pan1, Surita R. Bhatia2, George W. Huber3 and David M. Ford1, (1)Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA, (2)Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, (3)Chemical Engineering, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA

Bio-oil formed by the fast pyrolysis of biomass has tremendous potential as a renewable feedstock to make liquid transportation fuels. However, the presence of char particles in the bio-oil causes problems in storage and end-use. Currently there is no well-established technology to remove char particles less than 10 microns in size. In this study we describe the application of a liquid-phase microfiltration (MF) process to remove char particles from bio-oil down to slightly sub-micron levels. Tubular ceramic membranes of nominal pore sizes 0.5 and 0.8 microns were employed to carry out the MF, which was conducted in the cross-flow mode at temperatures near 40 degrees Celsius and at different trans-membrane pressures varying from 1 to 3 bar. Microscopic and ash content analysis of the feed and permeate streams were conducted to determine the efficacy of the process. Our results demonstrated the removal of a large percentage of the char particles with a significant reduction in overall ash content of the bio-oil. Other than the removal of the suspended chars, the chemical composition of the liquid bio-oil was changed very little by the MF process. Results of fouling analysis obtained from longer runs of bio-oil through the membranes clearly showed that the cake formation mechanism of fouling is predominant in this process. A membrane cleaning protocol for the fouled membrane was also developed.

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