Isoconversional analysis for the prediction of mass-loss rates during pyrolysis of biomass

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Biomass is the only renewable carbon source that can compete with fossil energy sources in terms of production of materials, chemicals and fuels. Biomass can be transformed into charcoal, liquid and gas through pyrolysis, i.e. pure thermal decomposition. By changing the pyrolysis conditions either solid, liquid or gaseous fractions can become the main product and pyrolysis is thus a very versatile process. Pyrolysis is also the first step in combustion and gasification, two important thermal processes in our society. The importance of biomass pyrolysis has led to extensive research in this area but due to the complexity of the process there is still no general understanding of how to describe biomass pyrolysis, which is essential in order to optimize thermal processes. The research presented in this thesis thus aims at finding a simple yet accurate way to model the decomposition rate of biomass during pyrolysis.Thermogravimetric analysis, a well known method that is simple to use, was chosen to collect the experimental data used for kinetic evaluation. The reaction kinetics were derived using two different model-free, isoconversional methods, i.e. the non-linear form of the Friedman method and the incremental, integral method ofVyazovkin. By using these two methods and experimental data, complete reactionrate expressions could be derived for commercial cellulose, Norway spruce and seven different samples originating from kraft cooking, the most common process to produce pulp for the paper industry. The derivation of model-free rate expressions have never been performed before for these materials and since the rate expressions are model-free, no assumptions or knowledge about the pyrolysis reactions were required. This is a great advantage compared to the commonly used model-fitting methods that rely on information about these aspects. All therate expressions were successful in predicting mass-loss rates at extrapolated pyrolysis conditions. This is a clear indication of the soundness of the methodologypresented in this thesis.