A kinetic study was carried out on the upgrading of cellulosic wastes to bituminous oil (synthetic oils) by hydrogenation. An autoclave, run batchwise at high temperature and pressure was used. Each pulverised cellulosic material was slurried in gas oil and the autoclave was pressurised with hydrogen. Cellulose hydrogenation was found to proceed by free radical mechanism. A rate expression derived from the postulated mechanism showed that cellulose hydrogenation was first order with respect to cellulose concentration and the reaction rate 0.128 mol m−3 s−1. This rate was found to be independent of the cellulose source and the initial hydrogen pressure in the reactor. The yield of bituminous oils was 40% by mass of the cellulose fed. This equivalent to producing 18 tonnes of oil a day, implying that by this process, it would be possible to supplement petroleum and at the same time properly disposing of cellulose wastes.
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