• Journal Article

Catalytic pyrolysis of amino acids: Comparison of aliphatic amino acid and cyclic amino acid


Liu, G., Wright, M. M., Zhao, Q., Brown, R. C., Wang, K., & Xue, Y. (2016). Catalytic pyrolysis of amino acids: Comparison of aliphatic amino acid and cyclic amino acid. Energy Conversion and Management, 112, 220-225. DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2016.01.024


Catalytic pyrolysis (CP) of protein-rich biomass such as microalgae is a promising approach to biofuel production. CP of amino acids can help understand the cracking of protein-rich biomass in the presence of zeolite catalysts. In this study, as representatives of aliphatic amino acid and cyclic amino acid, respectively, leucine and proline were pyrolyzed with ZSM-5 catalyst in a Tandem micro-furnace reactor coupled with a MS/FID/TCD. At 650 degrees C, leucine produced more hydrocarbons (aromatic hydrocarbons of 29.6%, olefins of 34.9% and alkanes of 8.1%) than proline (aromatic hydrocarbons of 25.3%, olefins of 14.0% and alkanes Of 5.5%) because its relatively simpler amino structure readily detached as ammonia during CP. However, with an N-cyclic structure, proline produced large quantities of nitrogen containing heterocyclic compounds that favored coke formation in CP. Accordingly, 28.2% of the nitrogen in proline was retained in the solid residue while most of the nitrogen in leucine was converted into ammonia leaving only 4.3% in the solid residue. In addition, though decarboxylation to carbon dioxide was favored in non-catalytic pyrolysis of leucine and proline, decarbonylation to carbon monoxide became the primary deoxygenation pathway in CP. These results indicate that the chemical structures of amino acids have significant effects on product distributions during CP and N-cyclic amino acid is less favored in CP for production of hydrocarbons and ammonia. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.