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Evaluation of bio-char based products as hydrotreating catalysts for the production of renewable fuel
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Increasing demand for alternative fuel from fossil fuel exists which has led to the development of new technologies for the production of bio-fuels. One such technology involves the hydrotreatment of vegetable oils such as cottonseed oil to produce bio-hydrocarbons. The catalyst plays an important role in the hydrotreatment process and also makes up a significant part of the cost of hydrotreatment. The utilization of waste titanium tetrachloride in the production of hydrotreating catalysts could result in a situation where a waste material is transformed into useful product. Products from the hydrothermal liquefaction process was tested as catalysts during hydrotreatment of cottonseed oil. Five catalysts were prepared and tested as follows: 1) biochar produced at 260 °C, 2) Biochar produced at 320 °C, 3) ash of the 260 °C biochar, 4) ash of the 350 °C biochar and 5) the 320 °C biochar heated to 900°C under nitrogen atmosphere. Cottonseed oil was hydrotreatment in a 350 ml batch reactor using the 5 different catalysts. This was done under hydrogen atmosphere with an initial hydrogen pressure of 9 MPa, a retention time of 1 hour at a reaction temperature of 410°C. The liquid product produced using the 5 catalysts was compared with the liquid product produced with a commercial NiMo hydrotreating catalyst. The 320 °C biochar yielded the highest n-alkane content with a liquid product composition similar to that of the commercial NiMo hydrotreating catalyst as well as the fuel with the highest energy value of all 5 catalysts of 45.47 MJ/kg. The conversion of cottonseed oil for the 5 catalysts was lower compared to that of the commercial catalyst showing that direct co-liquefaction of the biomass with the metal does not result in a hydrotreating catalyst with high enough catalyst activity