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Recent Progress in the Steam Reforming of Bio-Oil for Hydrogen Production: A Review of Operating Parameters, Catalytic Systems and Technological Innovations


The present review focuses on the production of renewable hydrogen through the catalytic steam reforming of bio-oil, the liquid product of the fast pyrolysis of biomass. Although in theory the process is capable of producing high yields of hydrogen, in practice, certain technological issues require radical improvements before its commercialization. Herein, we illustrate the fundamental knowledge behind the technology of the steam reforming of bio-oil and critically discuss the major factors influencing the reforming process such as the feedstock composition, the reactor design, the reaction temperature and pressure, the steam to carbon ratio and the hour space velocity. We also emphasize the latest research for the best suited reforming catalysts among the specific groups of noble metal, transition metal, bimetallic and perovskite type catalysts. The effect of the catalyst preparation method and the technological obstacle of catalytic deactivation due to coke deposition, metal sintering, metal oxidation and sulfur poisoning are addressed. Finally, various novel modified steam reforming techniques which are under development are discussed, such as the in-line two-stage pyrolysis and steam reforming, the sorption enhanced steam reforming (SESR) and the chemical looping steam reforming (CLSR). Moreover, we argue that while the majority of research studies examine hydrogen generation using different model compounds, much work must be done to optimally treat the raw or aqueous bio-oil mixtures for efficient practical use. Moreover, further research is also required on the reaction mechanisms and kinetics of the process, as these have not yet been fully understood.

Funding source: The authors are grateful to the project SYNAGRON, a joint RT&D project under Greece–China Call for Proposals launched under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Development & Investments/General Secretariat of Research and Technology (GSRT) of the Hellenic Republic. China: National Key Research and Development Program, project code: 2017YFE0133300. Greece: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and National Resources (GSRT), project code: T7ΔKI-00388.
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain

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