A techno-economic assessment of the use of fast pyrolysis bio-oil from UK energy crops in the production of electricity and combined heat and power

  • John G. Rogers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis investigates the cost of electricity generation using bio-oil produced by the fast pyrolysis of UK energy crops. The study covers cost from the farm to the generator’s terminals. The use of short rotation coppice willow and miscanthus as feedstocks was investigated. All costs and performance data have been taken from published papers, reports or web sites. Generation technologies are compared at scales where they have proved economic burning other fuels, rather than at a given size. A pyrolysis yield model was developed for a bubbling fluidised bed fast pyrolysis reactor from published data to predict bio-oil yields and pyrolysis plant energy demands. Generation using diesel engines, gas turbines in open and combined cycle (CCGT) operation and steam cycle plants was considered. The use of bio-oil storage to allow the pyrolysis and generation plants to operate independently of each other was investigated. The option of using diesel generators and open cycle gas turbines for combined heat and power was examined. The possible cost reductions that could be expected through learning if the technology is widely implemented were considered. It was found that none of the systems analysed would be viable without subsidy, but with the current Renewable Obligation Scheme CCGT plants in the 200 to 350 MWe range, super-critical coal fired boilers co-fired with bio-oil, and groups of diesel engine based CHP schemes supplied by a central pyrolysis plant would be viable. It was found that the cost would reduce with implementation and the planting of more energy crops but some subsidy would still be needed to make the plants viable.
Date of AwardSept 2009
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn G Brammer (Supervisor)


  • miscanthus
  • willow
  • CCGT
  • diesel
  • combustion

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