NREL, MIT, WSU workforce develops course of to transform lignin to fragrant blendstock for 100% sustainable aviation gasoline


Researchers on the US Division of Power’s Nationwide Renewable Power Laboratory (NREL), the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise (MIT), and Washington State College have developed a a course of by which lignin will be selectively transformed to jet-range aromatics at unprecedented carbon yields, offering a path towards a 100% drop-in sustainable aviation gasoline (SAF). A paper on their work is revealed in Joule.


Stone et al.

Though electrification has proven promise towards lowering the carbon footprint of passenger automobiles, aviation stays depending on hydrocarbon fuels because of their excessive power density relative to even essentially the most superior battery applied sciences out there at present. As such, a number of processes for the technology of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) have just lately been developed. Nonetheless, because of their lack of fragrant molecules, they require mixing with typical fuels to realize the mandatory traits for his or her protected use. Through the use of lignin, an considerable, renewable biopolymer that has historically been underutilized because of its chemical recalcitrance, an fragrant SAF blendstock could possibly be generated.

—Stone et al.

Jet gasoline is a blended combination of various hydrocarbon molecules, together with aromatics and cycloalkanes. Present commercialized applied sciences don’t produce these parts to qualify for a 100% SAF. As a substitute, SAF blendstocks are mixed with typical hydrocarbon fuels. As the biggest supply of renewable aromatics in nature, lignin might maintain the reply to attaining a whole bio-based jet gasoline.

This newly revealed work illustrates the flexibility of a lignin pathway to enrich current and different creating pathways. Particularly, the lignin pathway described on this new work permits the SAF to have gasoline system compatibility at larger mix ratios.

Lignin makes up the inflexible elements of the cell partitions of vegetation. Different elements of vegetation are used for biofuels, however lignin has been largely neglected due to the difficulties in breaking it down chemically and changing it into helpful merchandise.

Due to its recalcitrance, lignin is often burned for warmth and energy or used solely in low-value purposes. Earlier analysis has yielded lignin oils with excessive oxygen contents starting from 27% to 34%, however for use as a jet gasoline that quantity should be diminished to lower than a half-percent.

Different processes have been tried to cut back the oxygen content material, however the catalysts concerned require costly noble metals and proved to be low yielding. Researchers on the trio of establishments demonstrated an environment friendly methodology that used earth-abundant molybdenum carbide because the catalyst in a steady course of, attaining an oxygen content material of about 1%.

The US Division of Power’s Bioenergy Applied sciences Workplace and Middle for Bioenergy Innovation funded the analysis.


  • Michael L. Stone, Matthew S. Webber, William P. Mounfield, David C. Bell, Earl Christensen, Ana R.C. Morais, Yanding Li, Eric M. Anderson, Joshua S. Heyne, Gregg T. Beckham, Yuriy Román-Leshkov (2022) “Steady hydrodeoxygenation of lignin to jet-range fragrant hydrocarbons,” Joule doi: 10.1016/j.joule.2022.08.005


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