Thermo-chemical behaviour and chemical product formation from Polar seaweeds during intermediate pyrolysis

Katharina Kebelmann*, Andreas Hornung, Ulf Karsten, Gareth Griffiths

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fundamental analytical pyrolysis studies of biomass from Polar seaweeds, which exhibit a different biomass composition than terrestrial and micro-algae biomass were performed via thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass-spectrometry (Py-GC/MS). The main reason for this study is the adaptation of these species to very harsh environments making them an interesting source for thermo-chemical processing for bioenergy generation and production of biochemicals via intermediate pyrolysis. Several macroalgal species from the Arctic region Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen/Norway (Prasiola crispa, Monostroma arcticum, Polysiphonia arctica, Devaleraea ramentacea, Odonthalia dentata, Phycodrys rubens, Sphacelaria plumosa) and from the Antarctic peninsula, Potter Cove King George Island (Gigartina skottsbergii, Plocamium cartilagineum, Myriogramme manginii, Hymencladiopsis crustigena, Kallymenia antarctica) were investigated under intermediate pyrolysis conditions. TGA of the Polar seaweeds revealed three stages of degradation representing dehydration, devolatilization and decomposition of carbonaceous solids. The maximum degradation temperatures Prasiola crispa were observed within the range of 220-320 C and are lower than typically obtained by terrestrial biomass, due to divergent polysaccharide compositions. Biochar residues accounted for 33-46% and ash contents of 27-45% were obtained. Identification of volatile products by Py-GC/MS revealed a complexity of generated chemical compounds and significant differences between the species. A widespread occurrence of aromatics (toluene, styrene, phenol and 4-methylphenol), acids (acetic acid, benzoic acid alkyl ester derivatives, 2-propenoic acid esters and octadecanoic acid octyl esters) in pyrolysates was detected. Ubiquitous furan-derived products included furfural and 5-methyl-2-furaldehyde. As a pyran-derived compound maltol was obtained by one red algal species (P. rubens) and the monosaccharide d-allose was detected in pyrolysates in one green algal (P. crispa). Further unique chemicals detected were dianhydromannitol from brown algae and isosorbide from green algae biomass. In contrast, the anhydrosugar levoglucosan and the triterpene squalene was detected in a large number of pyrolysates analysed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis
Early online date12 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • intermediate pyrolysis
  • polar macroalgae
  • Py-GC/MS
  • seaweeds
  • TGA


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermo-chemical behaviour and chemical product formation from Polar seaweeds during intermediate pyrolysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this