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Direct upstream integration of biogasoline production into current light straight run naphtha petrorefinery processes


There is an urgent need to address environmental problems caused by our transportation systems, which include the reduction of associated CO2 emissions. In the short term, renewable drop-in fuels are ideal, as they allow a direct integration into the existing infrastructure. However, preferably they would perform better than current alternatives (for example, bioethanol) and be synthesized in a more efficient way. Here we demonstrate the production of biogasoline with a direct upstream integration into processes in existing petrorefinery facilities that targets the 10% bio-based carbon in accordance with the current European Union directives (for 2020) for biofuels. To achieve this goal, we show the valorization of (hemi)cellulose pulp into light naphtha using a two-phase (H2O:organic) catalytic slurry process. A C5–C6 alkane stream, enriched with bio-derived carbon and compatible with further downstream petrorefinery operations for (bio)gasoline production, is automatically obtained by utilizing fossil light straight run naphtha as the organic phase. The ease of integration pleads for a joint petro/bio effort to gradually produce bio-enriched gasolines, wherein the chemical compounds of the bio-derived fraction are indistinguishable from those in current high-quality gasoline compositions.

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Supplementary Information gives additional and supporting data. Further data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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This work was performed in the framework of the IWT-SBO project ARBOREF. A.D. acknowledges the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) for a PhD grant. E.P. and T.R. acknowledge Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) for financial support. S.V.d.B. and T.E. acknowledge KU Leuven for a BOF-PDM grant. M.D. acknowledges FWO and BOFZAP. B. Op de Beeck is thanked for the initial exploratory work.

Author information

M.D., B.F.S. and A.D. conceived the LPCtoN integration. Most experimental work (catalyst preparation, SEM, LPCtoN reactions and GC analysis) was performed by A.D., assisted by E.P. Experimental work with the RCF was performed by T.R. and S.V.d.B. The hydro-isomerization experimental work was performed by A.D and T.E., assisted by N.V.O. The 14C determination was performed by T.S. and T.I.K. Data analysis and writing was done by A.D. supported with the critical input of M.D. and B.F.S.

Competing interests

M.D. and B.F.S. have a pending patent (WO2015172208A1) on the LPCtoN technology. The other authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Michiel Dusselier or Bert F. Sels.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1–9, Supplementary Figures 1–19, Supplementary Tables 1–8, Supplementary References

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Fig. 1: Schematic representation of a petrorefinery with upstream integration of the LPCtoN technology.
Fig. 2: Direct enrichment of fossil-derived LSR (petroleum ether) with bio-naphtha via the LPCtoN process.
Fig. 3: Influence of the alkane solvent on the biphasic LPCtoN technology.
Fig. 4: Influence of process variables and lignocellulose processing on the LPCtoN efficiency.
Fig. 5: Schematic representation of the downstream integration in the isomerization unit.