Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

John Kuhn


Biofuel, Energy, Fischer Tropsch, Gas to Liquid, Hydrogen Production, Solar Power


This study focuses on upgrading biomass derived syngas for the synthesis of liquid fuels using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS). The process includes novel gasification of biomass via a tri-reforming process which involves a synergetic combination of CO2 reforming, steam reforming, and partial oxidation of methane. Typical biomass-derived syngas H2:CO is 1:1 and contains tars that deactivate FT catalyst. This innovation allows for cost-effective one-step production of syngas in the required H2:CO of 2:1 with reduction of tars for use in the FTS. To maximize the performance of the tri-reforming catalyst, an attempt to control oxygen mobility, thermal stability, dispersion of metal, resistance to coke formation, and strength of metal interaction with support is investigated by varying catalyst synthesis parameters. These synthesis variables include Ce and Zr mixed oxide support ratios, amount Mg and Ni loading, and the preparation of the catalyst. Reaction conditions were also varied to determine the influences reaction temperature, gas composition, and GHSV have on the catalyst performance. Testing under controlled reaction conditions and the use of several catalyst characterization techniques (BET, XRD, TPR, XAFS, SEM-EDS, XPS) were employed to better explain the effects of the synthesis parameters. Applications of the resulting data were used to design proof of concept solar powered BTL plant. This paper highlights the performance of the tri-reforming catalyst under various reaction conditions and explains results using catalyst characterization.