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Solvent Liquefaction

A researcher looking at products made from solvent liquefaction.The pilot-scale solvent liquefaction system (1 kilogram per hour capacity) was an Iowa State University partnership with Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) that demonstrated solvent liquefaction as a pathway to produce low cost drop-in transportation fuels. The solvent liquefaction system mixed a proprietary solvent with woody or herbaceous biomass which was extruded into a reactor and split into an upper stream that handled gases and vapors and a lower stream that handled liquids and small amounts of solids. Each stream had a series of filters and separators that recovered products that included bio-oil, small amounts of biochar and solvent for recycling. CTV hydroprocessed the bio-oil into refinery compatible biocrude and fuel blendstocks. The pilot plant test results were used to conduct a techno-economic analysis and develop a demonstration plant design. This work was done because continuous pilot-scale production and recovery of these materials is critical to demonstrate the commercial viability of solvent liquefaction for the production of drop-in hydrocarbon transportation fuels.


  • Formed partnership that brought the CTV solvent liquefaction pilot plant ($1.4 million) to Iowa State University.
  • Acquired a four-year, $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Biomass Research and Development Initiative.
  • Achieved >65 percent oil yield in single-pass mode without the use of reducing gas or catalysts.
  • Bio-oil product produced with oxygen content of ≤10 percent. ≤1 percent when hydroprocessed.

Future Work

  • Continue commercialization of the solvent liquefaction process.
  • Work with new feedstocks, such as lignin, and solvents to create fuel and chemical intermediates.

Learn more about solvent liquefaction
Download the Solvent Liquefaction factsheet (PDF)

Principal Investigators