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Yira Hurtado

Catalysis 2023
Yira Hurtado, Speaker at Catalysis Conference
University of Sherbrooke, Canada
Title : Biofuels production using iron foam as structured catalyst in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis


Biomass to liquid process is a promising alternative to meet the growing demand for liquid fuels in a sustainable way, with this in mind the present study focuses on the fabrication, characterization, and performance of a structured iron catalyst to produce hydrocarbons through Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS). The catalyst was engineered to tackle some of the draw backs conventional supported catalyst, such as low catalyst utilization and poor activity and stability.

The experimental investigation involved the manufacturing of iron-based catalysts using the sponge replication method (powder metallurgy). The resulting structured catalyst reach a one-pass conversion of 85 % with 10 % selectivity to CH4. The performance of the structured iron catalyst was assessed in a fixed-bed reactor under industrially relevant conditions. Notably, this result was reach with syngas ratio typical of gasification on lignocellulosic biomass where the catalyst exhibited superior catalytic activity and selectivity toward desired hydrocarbon products including light olefins and long-chain paraffins, compare to a precipitate catalyst for which conversion was 18%.

The results obtained indicate that the developed structured iron catalyst holds considerable potential for efficient and sustainable hydrocarbon production via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. The catalyst's excellent performance, coupled with its improved stability and selectivity, offers promising prospects for its application in commercial-scale hydrocarbon synthesis processes.

Audience Take Away:

  • Catalyst Design and Development: The study provides insights into the fabrication and characterization of a structured iron catalyst for biomass-to-liquid conversion. The audience can learn about the sponge replication method and its application in catalyst manufacturing. This knowledge can be utilized to design and develop similar structured catalysts tailored for specific reactions and feedstocks Think about the properties of the materials used in powder metallurgy not only in the context of mechanical characteristics, but also in terms of their chemical functionality and catalytic activity.
  • Improved Catalyst Performance: The research highlights the superior performance of the structured iron catalyst compared to conventional precipitate catalysts. The audience can understand the factors that contribute to enhanced catalytic activity, stability, and selectivity. This understanding can guide the development of more efficient catalysts for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis or other related processes. Find alternatives route to use and active phase (iron) that in conventional form (powder catalysts) has lower activity so it performs in a way that is comparable to is counter par.
  • Sustainable Hydrocarbon Production: The study emphasizes the potential of biomass-to-liquid conversion as a sustainable approach to meet the growing demand for liquid fuels. By learning about the successful application of the structured iron catalyst, the audience can explore and promote the use of biomass feedstocks, such as lignocellulosic biomass, in hydrocarbon synthesis. This knowledge can contribute to the development of environmentally friendly and renewable fuel production methods.
  • Industrial Applications: The performance evaluation of the catalyst was conducted under industrially relevant conditions. Therefore, the audience can extrapolate the findings and consider the practical implementation of the structured iron catalyst in commercial-scale hydrocarbon synthesis processes. The improved efficiency, stability, and selectivity demonstrated by the catalyst offer valuable insights for optimizing industrial processes and increasing productivity. The development and implementation of a structure catalyst aides the design of of a compact reactor unit to make syngas-to-liquids economically feasible at small scales.


Yira Hurtado is a chemical engineer graduate from the Faculty of Mines of Colombia National University. In 2017, she was awarded a grand in the COLCIENCIAS young researchers program. In 2018 she obtained a scholarship to carry out her master’s studies in chemical engineering at the same university, and she graduated with a meritorious thesis in 2020.
Her research experience is related to the synthesis, characterization, and utilization of nanoparticles for applications in the oil and gas industry with an emphasis on enhance oil recovery techniques. This time her focus is to produce liquid fuels from biomass.