Pyrolysis and gasification of biomass and acid hydrolysis residues

  • Manisha Patel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research was carried for an EC supported project that aimed to produce ethyl levulinate as a diesel miscible biofuel from biomass by acid hydrolysis. The objective of this research was to explore thermal conversion technologies to recover further diesel miscible biofuels and/or other valuable products from the remaining solid acid hydrolysis residues (AHR).
AHR consists of mainly lignin and humins and contains up to 80% of the original energy in the biomass. Fast pyrolysis and pyrolytic gasification of this low volatile content AHR was unsuccessful. However, successful air gasification of AHR gave a low heating value gas for use in engines for power or heat with the aim of producing all the utility requirements in any commercial implementation of the ethyl levulinate production process.
In addition, successful fast pyrolysis of the original biomass gave organic liquid yields of up to 63.9 wt.% (dry feed basis) comparable to results achieved using a standard hardwood. The fast pyrolysis liquid can be used as a fuel or upgraded to biofuels.
A novel molybdenum carbide catalyst was tested in fast pyrolysis to explore the potential for upgrading. Although there was no deoxygenation, some bio-oil properties were improved including viscosity, pH and homogeneity through decreasing sugars and increasing furanics and phenolics.
AHR gasification was explored in a batch gasifier with a comparison with the original biomass. Refractory and low volatile content AHR gave relatively low gas yields (74.21 wt.%), low tar yields (5.27 wt.%) and high solid yields (20.52 wt.%). Air gasification gave gas heating values of around 5MJ/NM3, which is a typical value, but limitations of the equipment available restricted the extent of process and product analysis.
In order to improve robustness of AHR powder for screw feeding into gasifiers, a new densification technique was developed based on mixing powder with bio-oil and curing the mixture at 150°C to polymerise the bio-oil.
Date of Award19 Jun 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTony Bridgwater (Supervisor)


  • miscanthus
  • sugarcane bagasse
  • fast pyrolysis
  • catalytic pyrolysis
  • pelletisation

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