Catalytic hydrotreating is an attractive method for upgrading bio-derived oils into renewable feedstocks with less oxygen content, suitable for producing valuable hydrocarbons through various petro-refinery processes. This study evaluates the catalytic activity of a commercial alumina (Al2O3) supported NiMo catalyst for hydrotreating tall oil feeds such as crude tall oil (CTO), distilled tall oil (DTO), and tall oil fatty acid (TOFA). Catalytic experiments carried out in a bench-scale fixed bed reactor set-up at different process conditions [space velocity (1-3 h-1), temperature (325-450°C), and H2 pressure (5 MPa)] produced a wide-range of products from tall oil feeds. Hydrotreating of TOFA produced highest yield of n-alkanes (>80 wt%) compared to DTO and CTO hydrotreating. A high conversion of fatty acids and resin acids was obtained in DTO hydrotreating. In CTO hydrotreating, a drop in conversion of fatty acids and resin acids was observed especially at the lowest temperature tested (325°C). The study revealed that there are various deoxygenation pathways preferential at different hydrotreating temperatures. As an example for TOFA, the decarboxylation route is dominant over the hydrodeoxygenation route at high temperatures (>400°C).
- commercial NiMo catalyst
- tall oil