Catalytic conversion of pure glycerol over an un-modified H-ZSM-5 zeolite to bio-based aromatics

Songbo He, Kenny Zuur, Dian Sukmayanda Santosa, Andre Heeres, Chuncheng Liu, Evgeny Pidko, Hero Jan Heeres*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The catalytic conversion of pure glycerol to bio-aromatics (bio-BTX) over an un-modified H-ZSM-5 (SiO2/Al2O3 molar ratio of 23) via an ex-situ catalytic pyrolysis approach in a continuous tandem-micro reactor at a scale of 1 g glycerol h−1 was investigated. A BTX peak carbon yield of 28.1 ± 0.2 % was obtained at a pyrolysis temperature of 400 °C, catalytic upgrading temperature of 500 °C, atmospheric pressure and a WHSV of 1 h−1. About 70 % of the bound oxygen in glycerol was converted to water. The latter was mainly formed in the catalytic upgrading unit (70 %), though conversion of glycerol to other oxygenates with water formation was also observed in the pyrolysis unit. Catalyst deactivation occurs at a time scale of hours and is mainly due to coke deposition (12.0 wt.%) on the catalyst surface. An oxidative regeneration procedure to remove coke was applied and 5 cycles of reaction-regeneration were performed successfully, though a drop in activity was observed after each cycle due to irreversible catalyst deactivation. Characterization of the fresh, deactivated and regenerated catalysts by various techniques revealed dealumination of the H-ZSM-5 framework and resulted in a dramatic decrease in Brønsted acidity of the catalyst. Dealumination mainly occurred in the catalytic upgrading reactor and to a by far lesser extent during catalyst regeneration. This information is relevant for a better understanding of the process on a molecular level but also for scale-up studies, e.g. for the design of pilot plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119467
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2021


  • Aromatics
  • Bio-based chemicals
  • Glycerol
  • H-ZSM-5
  • Pyrolysis

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