This project aims to develop an innovative separation technique for denitrogenation of biocrude obtained from hydrothermal liquefaction of algae. Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) involves conversion of whole algae (without drying) performed in hot, compressed water at ~350 oC and 20 MPa (3000 psi) pressure. Algal biocrude obtained from HTL has an energy content of 80-93% of that of fossil crude oil and it can be catalytically upgraded into mid-distillate range hydrocarbon fuels. However, algal biocrude oil obtained from HTL has 5-7% of N-containing and 10-15% O-containing heterocyclic compounds including, indoles, pyrazines, pyrrolidides and morpholides. These compounds have high boiling and melting points and are difficult to be removed/ separated. Particularly, N-heteroatoms that arise from the breakdown of proteins in algae lead to NOx emissions and uneven combustion. Hence, denitorgenation of the algal biocrude is quite important. The current research aims to evaluate separation of nitrogenated compounds from biocrude using innovative low cost adsorption chemistry (combination of an activated carbon and acid-based column materials) and integrate with HTL in order to generate high quality biocrude from algae and other organic feedsotcks.
Review background information on hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algal biomass and biocrude characteristics.
Review the current methods of algal biocrude upgrading develop understanding of denitrogenation chemistry and laboratory methods of adsorption