Catalytic fast pyrolysis of cellulose was studied at 500°C using a ZSM-5 catalyst in a bubbling fluidized bed reactor constructed from a 4.92-cm ID pipe. Inert gas was fed from below through the distributor plate and from above through a vertical feed tube along with cellulose. Flowing 34% of the total fluidization gas through the feed tube led to the optimal mixing of the pyrolysis vapors into the catalyst bed, which experimentally corresponded to 29.5% carbon aromatic yield. Aromatic yield reached a maximum of 31.6% carbon with increasing gas residence time by changing the catalyst bed height. Increasing the hole-spacing in the distributor plate was shown to have negligible effect on average bubble diameter and hence did not change the product distribution. Aromatic yields of up to 39.5% carbon were obtained when all studied parameters were optimized. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 1320–1335, 2014
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