Layered Solid Acid Catalysts for the Production of Biofuels From Algal Lipids

Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 1:54 PM
Grand Ballroom F (Marriott Downtown)
Griffin W. Roberts, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS and Susan Stagg-Williams, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

There is a significant need to develop transportation fuels from alternative sources other than fossil fuels for many reasons. The forefront of the problems in the U.S. is the dependence upon foreign oil and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a nation we must solve this problem without creating new ones, such as the food vs. fuel debate with some biomass sources. Algae can be a renewable fuel feedstock that does not compete in any existing market (such as corn or soybeans) but instead lays the foundation to create new markets in an already distraught economy. The high lipid content of algae allows for a substantial fuel production per acre of biomass (up to 3000 gal./acre) 100-fold increase to traditional renewable feedstocks (corn and soybeans). This paper reports on the synthesis and characterization of layered zeolite-like solid acid catalyst to investigate the production of both 1st and 2nd generation biofuels (biodiesel and green gasoline/ diesel respectively) from algal oils The heterogeneous catalysts used are metal pillared intercalated clays (PILC) from the natural clay mineral Montmorillonite. Different metal pillars are investigated, including aluminum and a gallium/ aluminum mix, to determine the best catalytic activity and selectivity toward hydrocarbons based on type, number and strength of acid sites, surface area, and pore size. There is a proposed method of producing catalyst in larger quantities with easily scalable design and preliminary results for both transesterification and cracking/oligomerization experiments.

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