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Chemical and Catalyst Science Capabilities

A photo of a man in a white lab coat and dark goggles looking at a microscope. A bright green light shines down from the microscope lens and illuminates a round glass tray containing small white beads.

The Laser Raman Spectrometer is used to obtain phase and structural identification information for catalysts used in the thermochemical conversion process.

NREL researchers use chemical and catalyst science to assess and improve biochemical and thermochemical conversion throughout the processes, from analyzing feedstocks to improving the yield of desired end products.

Catalyst Science

Syngas produced during gasification contains tars that are contaminants, but these tars can be reformed to more syngas using tar-reforming catalysts. Catalysts are also used to convert synthesis gas into fuels and chemicals. NREL's catalyst research capabilities include:

  • Assessing catalyst material performance through rapid screening methods
  • Determining correlations between surface structure and initial catalyst performance
  • Evaluating catalysts using simulated process conditions
  • Scaling up material for pilot-scale testing with biomass-derived syngas.

Learn more about the Biomass Catalyst Characterization Laboratory.

Computational Science

NREL researchers are developing computational fluid dynamics models to predict products formed during biomass conversion processes. This research uses sophisticated computer and chemistry models to simulate the interactions of biomass particles with gaseous products, char, and ash generated during the gasification process.

Chemical and Kinetics Modeling

NREL is also developing other chemical and kinetics models to optimize and predict biomass conversion performance, measure mass transport, and develop links between biomass structure and product formation.

Researchers use these models to:

  • Identify tar formation pathways and map tar formation kinetics during the gasification process
  • Develop links between biomass structure and tar formation
  • Investigate enzyme-cell wall interactions during biochemical conversion
  • Model integrated processes to choose the best process configurations and technologies to pursue.
  • Bench-Scale Pyrolysis Oil Upgrading

Learn about chemical and catalyst science projects and the Magnetic Resonance Facility.