Waste lignin is a potential source of renewable fuels and other chemical precursors under catalytic pyrolysis. For this purpose, four mixed metal oxide catalytic mixtures (Cat) derived from Na2CO3, CeO2 and ZrO2 were synthesised in varying compositions and utilised in a fixed bed reactor for catalytic vapour upgrading of Etek lignin pyrolysis products at 600 °C. The catalytic mixtures were analysed and characterised using XRD analysis, whilst pyrolysis products were analysed for distribution of products using FTIR, GC-MS and EA. Substantial phenolic content (20 wt%) was obtained when using equimolar catalytic mixture A (Cat_A), however the majority of these phenols were guaiacol derivatives, suggesting the catalytic mixture employed did not favour deep demethoxylation. Despite this, addition of 40-50% ceria to NaZrO2 resulted in a remarkable reduction of coke to 4 wt%, compared to ~9 wt% of NaZrO2. CeO2 content higher than 50% favoured the increase in conversion of the holo-cellulose fraction, enriching the bio-oil in aldehydes, ketones and cyclopentanones. Of the catalytic mixtures studied, equimolar metal oxides content (Cat_A) appears to showcase the optimal characteristics for phenolics production and coking reduction.
Keywords: ZrO2; bioethanol waste; catalysis; ceria; lignin; metal oxides; phenol; pyrolysis.