There is abundant ligno-cellulsoic biomass resources globally and with the right technology, has the potential to convert these renewable resources into valuable industrial products and bio-fuels. However, current high temperature thermo-chemical processes to convert renewable feedstocks to fuels or chemicals such as pyrolysis and gasification or low temperature enzymatic processes are simply not cost-competitive with conventional fossil-fuel based processes.
Exelus has developed a first-of-a-kind process to convert virtually any type of non-edible biomass, from corn stover to sawdust to prairie grasses, into a clean, environmentally friendly “Bio-naphtha” a paraffinic hydrocarbon similar to fossil-based light naphtha. Bio-naphtha can then be converted in a conventional refinery or petrochemical complex into a whole host of products including isomerate, reformate, light olefins or aromatics. This new process finds the “middle ground” between the slow, low temperature reactions catalyzed by enzymes and the fast, high-temperature, and un-selective reactions occurring in pyrolysis or gasification. In the Exelus process, biomass is first hydrolyzed to oligosaccharides using a benign “green” liquid acid. In the second step, the oligosaccharides are deoxygenated with hydrogen to light naptha (C5/C6 paraffins) at yields exceeding 100 gal/ton dry biomass. The product is separated using a phase separator and the water recycled to the hydrolysis reactor.
The technology is novel in the way reaction steps are applied and combined to produce a drop-in refinery or petrochemical feedstock substitute from cellulosic biomass in a highly efficient way. The process chemistry is very different from other approaches, and offers many benefits. Some of the benefits of this process include 1) Unique, highly selective chemistry, 2) Aqueous-phase processing, 3) High carbon retention in the product, 4) Most of the feedstock energy is retained in the product, 5) Engineered heterogeneous catalysts used in each step, 6) Minimal separation and distillation required, 7) Product is compatible with existing infrastructure, and 8) Modest reaction conditions keep capital costs low
Ready for commercial demonstration