Ana M. Hernández Giménez

PhD Candidate

Employed since: April 2014
Phone: +31 6 22 73 63 75
E-mail: A.M.HernandezGimenez (at)
Room: 4th floor study area

Advanced characterization and in-situ monitoring in the upgrading of bio-oil


The obtaining of bio-oil from biomass conversion offers a suitable way of partially substituting the massive use of fossil fuels. This conversion is complex and involves several steps. The first one is a pyrolytic process where the biomass is thermally decomposed at elevated temperatures (~ 500 0C) in the absence of oxygen [1]. The first result is bio-oil with very low heating value, due to the high content in oxygen and water, but also strong corrosiveness (pH = 2–4), high viscosity, immiscibility with conventional fuels and poor chemical stability [2]. Therefore, it is necessary an exhaustive upgrading treatment. The upgrading treatments consist of different deoxygenation reactions that yield a decrease in acidity (reduce corrosiveness), a reduction in the content of oxygen and water, and an increase in the length chain of the molecules, which is translated into a more energetic compound [3]. The last step of this process is known as hydrodeoxygenation (HDO). In the HDO, the already upgraded bio-oil is reduced with H2 under very high conditions of pressure (up to 200 bar) and temperature (300-400 0C) [4].

In this project, the aim is to develop a suitable catalyst able to catalyze this 3-step transformation, in order to obtain a high quality advanced bio-fuel.

Several spectroscopic techniques, mainly based on IR and UV-vis, are used to study in situ these reactions. These techniques provide information about the surface reaction mechanisms, the kinetics of surface chemical transformations and changes in the surface structure of the catalyst for determining the reasons for deactivation.

[1] A.V. Bridgwater et al., Biomass and Bioenergy, 38, 68–94 (2012)
[2] M. Bertero et al., Fuel, 95, 263-271 (2012)
[3] T. P. Vispute et al., Science, 330, 1222 (2010)
[4] P.M. Mortensen et al., Applied Catalysis A, 407 1-19 (2011)