Production of synthesis gas by partial oxidation and steam reforming of biomass pyrolysis oils

David Rennard, Rick French, Stefan Czernik, Tyler Josephson, Lanny Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


As the lowest cost biomass-derived liquids, pyrolysis oils (also called bio-oils) represent a promising vector for biomass to fuels conversion. However, bio-oils require upgrading to interface with existing infrastructure. A potential pathway for producing fuels from pyrolysis oils proceeds through gasification, the conversion to synthesis gas. In this work, the conversion of bio-oils to syngas via catalytic partial oxidation over Rh-Ce is evaluated using two reactor configurations. In one instance, pyrolysis oils are oxidized in excess steam in a freeboard and passed over the catalyst in a second zone. In the second instance, bio-oils are introduced directly to the catalyst. Coke formation is avoided in both configurations due to rapid oxidation. H2 and CO can be produced autothermally over Rh-Ce catalysts with millisecond contact times. Co-processing of bio-oil with methane or methanol improved the reactor operation stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4048-4059
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge that the funding for this work was provided by Department of Energy Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Program . DCR also received fellowship funding from 3M. The authors are also grateful to the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for the equilibrium calculations, and Dr. Roger Ruan and Dr. Yiqin Wan for elemental and moisture analysis.


  • Bio-oil
  • Catalytic partial oxidation
  • Pyrolysis oil
  • Rhodium
  • Steam reforming
  • Syngas


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