Intermediate pyrolysis studies of aquatic biomass and potential applications in the BtVB-process

  • Katharina Kebelmann

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Aquatic biomass is seen as one of the major feedstocks to overcome difficulties associated with 1st generation biofuels, such as competition with food production,
change of land use and further environmental issues. Although, this finding is widely accepted only little work has been carried out to investigate thermo-chemical conversion of algal specimen to produce biofuels, power and heat.
This work aims at contributing fundamental knowledge for thermo-chemical processing of aquatic biomass via intermediate pyrolysis. Therefore, it was necessary to install and commission an analytical pyrolysis apparatus which facilitates intermediate pyrolysis
process conditions as well as subsequent separation and detection of pyrolysates (Py-
GC/MS). In addition, a methodology was established to analyse aquatic biomass under intermediate conditions by Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA). Several microalgae (e.g. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Chlorella vulgaris) and macroalgae specimen (e.g. Fucus vesiculosus) from main algal divisions and various natural habitats (fresh and saline water, temperate and polar climates) were chosen and their thermal degradation under intermediate pyrolysis conditions was studied. In addition, it was of interest to examine the contribution of biochemical constituents of
algal biomass onto the chemical compounds contained in pyrolysates. Therefore, lipid
and protein fractions were extracted from microalgae biomass and analysed separately.
Furthermore, investigations of residual algal materials obtained by extraction of high valuable compounds (e.g. lipids, proteins, enzymes) were included to evaluate their potential for intermediate pyrolysis processing.
On basis of these thermal degradation studies, possible applications of algal biomass
and from there derived materials in the Bio-thermal Valorisation of Biomass-process (BtVB-process) are presented. It was of interest to evaluate the combination of the
production of high valuable products and bioenergy generation derived by micro- and macro algal biomass.
Date of Award28 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAndreas Hornung (Supervisor) & Gareth Griffiths (Supervisor)


  • algae
  • bioenergy
  • TGA
  • Py-GC/MS

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