Ketone Production from the Thermal Decomposition of Carboxylate Salts
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The MixAlco process uses an anaerobic, mixed-culture fermentation to convert lignocellulosic biomass to carboxylate salts. The fermentation broth must be clarified so that only carboxylate salts, water, and minimal impurities remain. Carboxylate salts are concentrated by evaporation and thermally decomposed into ketones. The ketones can then be chemically converted to a wide variety of chemicals and fuels. The presence of excess lime in the thermal decomposition step reduced product yield. Mixtures of calcium carboxylate salts were thermally decomposed at 450 degrees C. Low lime-to-salt ratios (g Ca(OH)2/g salt) of 0.00134 and less had a negligible effect on ketone yield. In contrast, salts with higher lime-to-salt ratios of 0.00461, 0.0190, and 0.272 showed 3.5, 4.6, and 9.4% loss in ketone yield, respectively. These losses were caused primarily by increases in tars and heavy oils; however, a three-fold increase in hydrocarbon production occurred as well. To predict ketone product distribution, a random-pairing and a Gibbs free energy minimization model were applied to thermal decompositions of mixed calcium and sodium carboxylate salts. Random pairing appears to better predict ketone product composition. For sodium and calcium acetate, two types of mixed sodium carboxylate salts, and two types of mixed calcium carboxylate salts, activation energy (EA) was determined using three isoconversional methods. For each salt type, EA varied significantly with conversion. The average EA for sodium and calcium acetate was 226.65 and 556.75 kJ/mol, respectively. The average EA for the two mixed sodium carboxylate salts were 195.61, and 218.18 kJ/mol. The average EA for the two mixed calcium carboxylate salts were 232.78, and 176.55 kJ/mol. In addition, three functions of conversion were employed to see which one best modeled the experimental data. The Sestak-Berggren model was the best overall. Possible reactor designs and configurations that address the challenges associated with the continuous thermal decomposition of carboxylate salts are also presented and discussed. Methods of fermentation broth clarification were tested. Flocculation showed little improvement in broth purity. Coagulation yielded broth of 93.23% purity. Filtration using pore sizes from 1 micrometer to 240 Daltons increased broth purity (90.79 to 98.33%) with decreasing pore size.
Landoll, Michael 1984- (2012). Ketone Production from the Thermal Decomposition of Carboxylate Salts. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from