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Study Finds Upgrading of Palm Shell Bio-oil to Higher Value Fuel Hydrocarbons Economically Viable

A team from University Technology Petronas—established in 1997 when the Malaysian government invited its national oil company Petronas to set up a university—has found that the upgrading of bio-oil resulting from the pyrolysis of palm shell via hydrodeoxygenation into higher value fuel hydrocarbons can be economically viable.

Their simulation study was published in the American Journal of Applied Sciences.

By assuming the feedstock used was 1% of the total palm shell available in Malaysia, i.e., 2,587 kg h-1 bio-oil, the simulation predicted the production of 226 kg h-1 benzene, 236 kg h-1 cyclohexane and 7 kg h-1 cyclohexene, with the yield of 34, 81 and 3% respectively. The preliminary economic potential was calculated to be positive. It was also observed that hydrogen was the limiting reactant in the hydrogenation reaction.

The simulation study indicated positive technical and economic feasibility of hydrodeoxygenation of pyrolytic bio-oil from biomass into benzene and cyclohexane for the transportation fuel industry. This potential can be explored in more details and further findings can promote the prospect of co-processing bio-oil in standard refinery units to produce chemicals and fuels.

—Ahmad et al.

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