Biomass fast pyrolysis chemistry


Biomass conversion into fuels and chemicals is gaining importance to diversify energy resources and mitigate global warming. Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of biomass into bio-oil (condensed vapours), char (solid particles) and non-condensable gasses. The focus of fast pyrolysis (500°C, absence of oxygen) is on maximizing the oil-yield, as the bio-oil can be used for the production of chemical building blocks or drop-in biofuels.

The major challenge of biomass fast pyrolysis is to obtain bio-oil with acceptable composition and properties with respect to its end-use. This research focusses on the reactions in the vapour phase before condensation to bio-oil takes place. The primary objective is to obtain a better understanding of the decomposition pathways during pyrolysis of wood biomass. Generally distinction can be made between primary and secondary reactions. Secondary degradation further decomposes the valuable primary intermediates into low-value products. The micropyrolysis setup diminishes secondary reactions and catalysts can be used in two different compositions (in-bed and ex-bed, see Figure) to tailor the process towards valuable products.

Laboratory for Thermo-Chemical Conversion of Biomass (LTCB) micropyrolysis setup
Laboratory for Thermo-Chemical Conversion of Biomass (LTCB) micropyrolysis setup

Equipment used

Micropyrolysis setup

Project Administration

Researcher: Jop Vercruysse