Steam reforming of renewables

Steam reforming of natural gas (mainly methane) is well established and diffused industrial process, and accounts for 90% of the whole hydrogen production. Conversely bio-alcohols (including glycerol), pyrolisis oils, are some of the readily available, cheap biomass derived raw materials. The renewables SR is a viable step in the transition from a oil based to a biomass based H2 production due to the easier technology transfer. However there the development o stable, active, selective, and cheap catalysts (suitable for a pool of raw materials) is still an issue.

Glycerol is the main by-product in the biodiesel production by trans-esterification of oils and fats. Moreover, glycerol can be obtained by several other alternative processes, such as hydrogenolysis of sorbitol, glucose fermentation and lignocelluloses to ethanol conversion. Glycerol can be also used for in situ hydrogen/syngas generation directly at the biodiesel plant. The feasibility of the use of glycerol to feed a bottoming cycle able to generate power and heat was recently demonstrated. In addition, hydrogen generated can be used for the upgrading of the methylesters to give biodiesel fuel with better technological properties. The principal issue of catalytic materials to be used in  the renewable reforming process is the activity with different feed and deactivation under reaction conditions, mainly due to sintering phenomena or fooling. 

Our task is the development of active and durable heterogeneous catalysts based on low loaded noble metals and/or non noble metals (also in bimetallic formulations), care is devoted also to the choice of support material ( heat and steam stable, with optimal acid/base properties to avoid excessive coke formation, able to stabilize metal nanoparticles against sintering,  etc.)

Acetic acid
Acetic acid is one of the main component of aqueous fraction of bio-oils deriving from biomass, and also a good model compound for acid by-products formed in several bio -refinery process. Acetic acid could convert to hydrogen by steam reforming.

Our task is the development of active and durable heterogeneous catalysts, care will be devoted to some key properties such as stability against acid leaching of support and/or active phase, tuning of acid/base sites to avoid excessive coke formation, etc.



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