Do not forget the classical catalyst poisons: The case of biomass to glycols via catalytic hydrogenolysis

Thimo D.J. te Molder, Sascha R.A. Kersten, Jean Paul Lange, M. Pilar Ruiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


The conversion of herbaceous biomass to glycols via tungstate catalyzed hydrogenolysis is challenging owing to its high content of extractives, inorganics and S/N, compared with woody biomass. We tested the hydrogenolysis performance of hay in batch autoclave experiments in the presence of soluble sodium polytungstate and Raney Ni at 245°C, both in excess of catalyst as well as under catalyst-starving conditions. By this method, we found that additional tungstate and Raney Ni poisons, or at least their much higher concentrations, are present in the hay feedstock compared with woody biomass. It turns out that N- and in particular S-containing components present in hay are the root cause for deactivation of the hydrogenation catalyst. From the experimental data we have derived feedstock criteria for N and S that should be targeted in terms of catalyst consumption for operation in an industrially relevant window. These challenging criteria urge the development of effective pretreatments for S/N removal or the employment of S/N-tolerant catalysts in the field of catalytic biomass conversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1274-1283
Number of pages10
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Catalyst deactivation
  • Extractives
  • Glycols
  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Nitrogen
  • Raney nickel
  • Sulfur
  • Tungstate
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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