Biofuel upgrading via catalytic deoxygenation in trickle bed reactor: Crucial issue in selection of pressure regulator type

Kanokthip Pongsiriyakul, Worapon Kiatkittipong*, Jun Wei Lim, Vesna Najdanovic, Suwimol Wongsakulphasatch, Kunlanan Kiatkittipong, Atthapon Srifa, Apiluck Eiad-ua, Sunya Boonyasuwat, Suttichai Assabumrungrat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trickle bed reactors (TBRs) are commonly used in various chemical and associated processes. The selection of a proper back pressure regulator (BPR) is crucial for maintaining the system's upstream pressure. In this study, we investigate the impact of BPR selection on deoxygenation reaction in a TBR with two typical types of BPR, including gas-phase type back pressure regulator (Gas-BPR) and multiphase type back pressure regulator (Multi-BPR). Notably, Gas-BPR introduces interruptions and pressure drops during the sampling step, impacting the hydrogen flow rate, while Multi-BPR ensures more consistent hydrogen flow. To examine the performance of BPR systems, hydrotreating experiments were conducted at 330 °C, 50 bar of hydrogen over Ni/γ-Al2O3 catalyst using crude Pongamia pinnata oil as a feedstock and refined palm olein as a benchmark. Insignificant difference in the reaction performance between Multi-BPR and Gas-BPR systems was observed when using refined palm olein. Interestingly, there was a significant difference between the two systems when feeding with crude Pongamia pinnata oil. The multi-BPR system demonstrated superior performance, achieving 100% conversion of the feedstock over a prolonged period compared to the interrupted hydrogen flow in the Gas-BPR system. Further characterization of fresh and spent catalysts using N2 sorption, XRD, SEM-EDS and TGA-DTG-DSC techniques revealed that a gum and coke formation was a reason for the rapid catalyst deactivation. Furthermore, the interrupted flow in the Gas-BPR system led to substantial gum production, ultimately causing a blockage in the reactor bed. Consequently, for feedstocks with high impurities, a robust continuous flow of hydrogen is essential. Thus, the study strongly recommends selecting Multi-BPR for continuous operation in TBRs to enhance efficiency and avoid catalyst deactivation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129456
Number of pages11
Early online date14 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by Silpakorn University under the Postdoctoral fellowship program; Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council, Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMU-C) under BCG in Action (Contract No. C10F630217). The authors also would like to acknowledge the Research Chair Grant supported by the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).

Copyright © 2023, Elsevier. This accepted manuscript version is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Bio-hydrogenated diesel
  • Catalyst deactivation
  • Nickel catalyst
  • Reactor configuration
  • Renewable energy


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