Preliminary Investigation of Catalytic Hydrothermal Reforming of Butyrates for the Production of C3 Hydrocarbon Gases

According to the UK Liquefied Petroleum Gases Association (UKLPGA), LPG currently provides secure energy to 2 million UK homes, mostly for off-grid heating where alternative decarbonisation solutions are limited. The aim of this proof-of-principle project is to investigate the conversion of biomass-derived butyrates to C3 and C4 hydrocarbon gases (bio-LPG components), as a route to developing a
low-carbon pathway to C3 and C4 hydrocarbons as alternatives to petroleum-derived LPG, which has a global market of US$125 billion.

The carboxylate feedstock (butyric acid and 3-hydroxybutyric acid) can be obtained from the well-known and increasingly popular acetone butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation process. Hence, the success of this project can inform the modification of the ABE process as a rich and reliable source of butyrates from biomass, and therefore a commercial source of bio-LPG for various uses.

The main objectives of this preliminary study are to achieve high feedstock conversions and high product
selectivity to bio-LPG component gases at short reaction times. In addition, results from this work will be used to carry out a high-level economic evaluation of bio-LPG production from butyrates on a commercial scale.

Download the Project Summary from the Nordic Bioenergy Conference on Building a Sustainable European Biofuel Industry, November 4 – 6, 2019, Gothia Towers, Gothenburg, Sweden.

The project has published an academic paper – link to here.

Jude Onwudili

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