Catalysis for renewable fuels and chemicals: Challenges today and a look into where we are going

Meeting Program — November 2015

John Holladay
John Hol­la­day
Bio­mass Sec­tor Man­ag­er, and Asso­ciate Direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Inte­grat­ed Catal­y­sis
Pacif­ic North­west Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry

Abstract — Renew­able car­bon sources, such as bio­mass and sug­ars, offer alter­na­tive start­ing mate­ri­als for pro­duc­ing fuels and chem­i­cals. How­ev­er, catal­y­sis of high­ly oxy­genat­ed mate­ri­als, often oper­at­ing in the con­densed phase, present sub­stan­tial chal­lenges with cat­a­lyst deac­ti­va­tion due to poi­son­ing and reac­tor bed/support sta­bil­i­ty. In essence, the cat­a­lysts devel­oped with­in the petro­chem­i­cal indus­try are often not suit­able and new solu­tions are need­ed if we are to match the effi­cien­cy that has been born from near­ly 90 years of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy aimed at hydro­car­bon pro­cess­ing.
In cov­er­ing chal­lenges today we will sur­vey two fam­i­lies of cat­alyt­ic tech­nolo­gies that pro­duce fuels—with an empha­sis on dis­til­lates and mid-dis­til­lates and chem­i­cal prod­ucts. These tech­nolo­gies will cov­er (i) upgrad­ing of oxy­genates (from alco­hols to com­plex bio-oils) and (ii) catal­y­sis of fer­men­ta­tion derived mol­e­cules that have been min­i­mal­ly processed. The pri­ma­ry focus will be on prob­lems and spe­cif­ic solu­tions that allowed long term, sta­ble and effi­cient oper­a­tion under con­tin­u­ous reac­tion con­di­tions suit­able for indus­try.
In part 2 of the lec­ture we will take a for­ward look toward where we would like to move the state of cat­a­lyst tech­nol­o­gy to allow pro­cess­ing of a broad­er range of car­bon from waste resources at the (small) size of the point source while keep­ing cap­i­tal and oper­at­ing cost low. Such feed­stocks include gaseous streams, such as CO-rich off gas; wet streams from food pro­cess­ing and waste water sludges; as well as dry streams from agri­cul­ture and for­est residues or munic­i­pal sol­id waste.
Biog­ra­phy — John Hol­la­day joined the Pacif­ic North­west Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry (PNNL) in 2001 after work­ing for five years at Union Car­bide in South Charleston, WV. John cur­rent­ly serves as the Bio­mass Sec­tor Man­ag­er at PNNL, where he is respon­si­ble for shap­ing PNNL’s strat­e­gy and vision for renew­able fuels and chem­i­cals. The pro­gram focus­es on mul­ti­ple areas includ­ing: devel­op­ing cost-effec­tive cat­a­lysts for renew­able car­bon con­ver­sion, learn­ing from the effi­cien­cy that fun­gi offers for nat­u­ral­ly pro­cess­ing bio­mass, and under­stand­ing alter­na­tive means for pro­duc­ing bio­mass in waste streams that are wet/dry or gaseous. He facil­i­tates PNNL’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­ers in acad­e­mia, indus­try and gov­ern­ment to advance the nation’s bio­fu­els research. He served as Chief Sci­en­tif­ic Offi­cer for the Nation­al Advanced Bio­fu­els Con­sor­tium, Chief Oper­a­tions Offi­cer for the Nation­al Alliance for Bio­fu­els and Bio­prod­ucts and is cur­rent­ly an Asso­ciate Direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Inte­grat­ed Catal­y­sis at PNNL.