Technical and economic simulation of biomass pyrolysis processes for fuels and electricity

  • Marie-Louise Cottam

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


There is considerable concern over the increased effect of fossil fuel usage on the environment and this concern has resulted in an effort to find alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources. Biomass is an available alternative resource which may be converted by flash pyrolysis to produce a crude liquid product that can be used directly to substitute for conventional fossil fuels or upgraded to a higher quality fuel. Both the crude and upgraded products may be utilised for power generation. A computer program, BLUNT, has been developed to model the flash pyrolysis of biomass with subsequent upgrading, refining or power production. The program assesses and compares the economic and technical opportunities for biomass thermochemical conversion on the same basis. BLUNT works by building up a selected processing route from a number of process steps through which the material passes sequentially. Each process step has a step model that calculates the mass and energy balances, the utilities usage and the capital cost for that step of the process. The results of the step models are combined to determine the performance of the whole conversion route. Sample results from the modelling are presented in this thesis. Due to the large number of possible combinations of feeds, conversion processes, products and sensitivity analyses a complete set of results is impractical to present in a single publication. Variation of the production costs for the available products have been illustrated based on the cost of a wood feedstock. The effect of selected macroeconomic factors on the production costs of bio-diesel and gasoline are also given.
Date of Award1995
Original languageEnglish


  • Technical dtimulation
  • economic simulation
  • biomass pyrolysis processes
  • fuels
  • electricity

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