Bio-methanol to jetfuel

Project leader: Elisabeth Wetterlund,  

Other participants: Jonas Hedlund, Rikard Gebart, Fredrik Granberg

Platforms: SysAnaBio, CatSep, ThermoChem

Organisations: LTU

Status: Completed

Reference: B4E3-TM-1-04

Strategic call: B4E3-TM-1, 2021

Recent years have seen numerous global initiatives for production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Currently, significant interest is put on the methanol-to-jet (MTJ) pathway, as renewable methanol can potentially be produced in large volumes, and through different routes. This project has investigated the MTJ pathway from a Bio4Energy context. The aim has been to perform a preliminary technical and techno-economic investigation of the feasibility of the black liquor (BL)–methanol–jet fuel pathway. Main objectives have been to (1) determine suitable process conditions for direct synthesis of jet fuel from bio-methanol using a new ultra-thin, defect-free ZSM-5 catalyst, and (2) perform a preliminary assessment of the techno-economic performance of the full pathway from BL to jet fuel.

Within the project, existing catalysis test equipment was upgraded and operated successfully at pressures up to 100 bar. Several types of ultra-thin catalysts were evaluated for synthesis of jet fuel and the process conditions (temperature, pressure, and weight hourly space velocity) were optimized. Mass yields from a selection of experiments were used to calculate preliminary mass and energy balances for the full BL-MTJ pathway, with the BL-methanol process integrated with a state-of-the-art kraft pulp mill and the MTJ process integrated with a refinery.

Suitable conditions for the synthesis of jet fuel in high yield were identified, and the lifetime before deactivation by coke formation of the ZSM-5 catalyst was found to be relatively good. This verifies the initial hypothesis that an ultra-thin, defect-free ZSM-5 catalyst can be used to effectively convert methanol to hydrocarbons, that can be hydrogenated to jet fuel in high yield. The preliminary techno-economic assessment of the full black liquor (BL)–methanol–jet fuel pathway indicated that jet fuel production costs similar to or better than those of comparable pathways can be attained.

Keywords: ZSM-5 catalyst; sustainable aviation fuels; methanol; techno-economic assessment; integrated biofuel production