Mesoporous MFI-Zeolite Catalysts for Aromatics Production


Executive Summary


There is a need for a green, renewable, and sustainable route to produce chemicals currently made from petrochemical feedstocks. MSU researchers have developed a new catalyst system for converting biomass to aromatics. The aromatics can be further transformed into downstream chemicals such as terephthalic acid, which can be used in the production of bio-polyesters.


Description of Technology


Biomass is generated from a variety of sources including agriculture, forestry, sawmills, and food waste. The materials can be pyrolyzed to produce bio-oil, biochar, and combustible gas products that in turn can be converted into useful industrial chemicals. Of particular interest are the C6-C9 monoaromatics including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene (BTEX). MSU has developed a new catalyst system based on Mordenite framework inverted structure (MFI) zeolites. The catalyst system has high selectivity of C6-C9 monoaromatics, particularly p-xylene, with high activity and low deactivation by char formation.


The system has been demonstrated with a variety of biomasses including poplar, switchgrass, coffee grinds, citrus waste, and tea leaves, among others. The catalyst technology can be used as part of the pyrolysis process or may be used to refine the generated bio-oils and pyrolysis gases in a second step. Generated chemicals such as p-xylene, can be processed in a separate step to produce other chemicals, such as terephthalic acid, which can further be used to synthesize biobased polymers.


Key Benefits


  • Non-petroleum biobased route to producing aromatic chemicals
  • High activity, high aromatic selectivity, low deactivation by char




  • Bio-sourced chemicals
  • Benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene (BTEX) production
  • Bioplastics used in films, bags, sheets, tubing, packaging, siding, strapping, etc.


Patent Status:


US Issued Patent 10,195,594


Licensing Rights Available


Licensing rights available; limited to non-beverage market




Kelkar Shantanu, Christopher Saffron, Thomas Pinnavaia, Robert Kriegel


Tech ID:




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University