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Kinetics of Biomass Reactivity in High Temperature Water

Project Lead:  Changi Shujauddin

Hydrothermal liquefaction of algae to produce bio-oil has the advantage of energy efficiency by dealing with wet biomass. Although few studies exist, the exact chemistry for bio-oil formation during algae liquefaction is not quite clear. We try to overcome this gap by studying model compounds, representing different classes of biomacromolecules in algae [e.g., ethyl oleate (triglyceride), phenylalanine (protein) and phytol (chlorophyll)].

Preliminary results have demonstrated hydrolysis of ethyl oleate in high temperature water (HTW) to be autocatalytic. A phenomenological and mechanistic kinetics model has been proposed having thermodynamically and thermochemically consistent Arrhenius parameters. Phytol and phenylalanine give several products, which have been characterized in bio-oil obtained from algae. Reaction network schemes have been proposed and validated using the experimental conversion-yield data. The results of this work can be extended to understand complex binary/ternary/quaternary mixtures of model compounds to obtain a comprehensive model capable of predicting conversions and composition of bio-oil given a starting composition of algae.

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