Assistant Professor, Amanda Simson and Dave D. Chun ChE’21 Published in the Waste And Biomass Valorization Journal
POSTED ON: July 26, 2021
Amanda Simson, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Cooper Alumnus Dave D. Chun ChE'19 ChE’21 were published in the Waste and Biomass Valorization Journal (Vol. 12 July 2021, Issue 7) with collaborators from Canada.
The publication, “Role of Metals in Biochar Production and Utilization in Catalytic Applications: A Review,” examines the role of metals in the production of biochar, specifically focusing on how metal content affects biochar textural properties, surface area, porosity, surface functional groups, and yield of biochar from gasification and pyrolysis processes.
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Biochar is produced by thermochemical conversion of biomass-based feedstocks and is a co-product of gasification and pyrolysis processes, which produce gas and liquid phase fuels. There is growing interest in using biochar as a catalyst as it is sustainable, inexpensive, and its properties can be modified to produce a biochar catalyst with a wide variety of surface conditions. This paper examines the role of metals in the production of biochar, specifically focusing on how metal content affects biochar textural properties, surface area, porosity, surface functional groups, and yield of biochar from gasification and pyrolysis processes. This review also discusses the role of metals in catalytic activity of biochar for four applications: tar cracking, biodiesel production, bio-oil upgrading, and NOx reduction. In some applications, such as tar cracking, the role of metals has been well examined while in others, such as bio oil upgrading, additional research is needed to better understand the role of metals. For most of the applications examined, alkali and alkaline earth metals, which can be present in high concentrations in certain feedstocks, were active catalysts. However, for NOx reduction, transition metals were primarily studied and the impact of overall ash content on the biochar surface area was significant. While it is clear that metals play a role in biochar production and its subsequent utilization, further research should be done to better understand the influence of specific metals and the metal-support interactions during catalytic utilization of biochar catalysts.