Pyrolysis of biomass. Rapid pyrolysis at high temperature. Slow pyrolysis for active carbon preparation

University dissertation from Stockholm : Kemiteknik

Abstract: Pyrolysis of biomass consists of heating solid biomass inthe absence of air to produce solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.In the first part of this thesis rapid pyrolysis of wood(birch) and some agricultural residues (olive waste, sugarcanebagasse and wheat straw in untreated and in pelletized form) athigh temperature (800ºC?1000ºC) is studied ina free fall reactor at pilot scale. These conditions are ofinterest for gasification in fluidized beds. Of main interestare the gas and char yields and compositions as well as thereactivity of the produced char in gasification.A higher temperature and smaller particles increase theheating rate resulting in a decreased char yield. The crackingof the hydrocarbons with an increase of the hydrogen content inthe gaseous product is favoured by a higher temperature and byusing smaller particles. Wood gives more volatiles and lesschar than straw and olive waste. The higher ash content inagricultural residues favours the charring reactions. Charsfrom olive waste and straw are more reactive in gasificationthan chars from birch because of the higher ash content. Thecomposition of the biomass influences the product distribution.Birch and bagasse give more volatiles and less char thanquebracho, straw and olive waste. Longer residence time inrapid pyrolysis increase the time for contact between tar andchar which makes the char less reactive. The secondary charproduced from tar not only covers the primary char but alsoprobably encapsulates the ash and hinders the catalytic effectof the ash. High char reactivity is favoured by conditionswherethe volatiles are rapidly removed from the particle, i.e.high heating rate, high temperature and small particles.The second part of this thesis deals with slow pyrolysis inpresence of steam for preparation of active carbon. Theinfluence of the type of biomass, the type of reactor and thetreatment conditions, mainly temperature and activation time,on the properties and the yield of active carbons are studied.The precursors used in the experiments are birch (wood) anddifferent types of agricultural residues such as sugarcanebagasse, olive waste, miscanthus pellets and straw in untreatedand pelletized form.The results from the pyrolysis of biomass in presence ofsteam are compared with those obtained in inert atmosphere ofnitrogen. The steam contributes to the formation of solidresidues with high surface area and good adsorption capacity.The yield of liquid products increases significantly at theexpense of the gaseous and solid products. Large amount ofsteam result in liquid products consisting predominantly ofwater-soluble polar compounds.In comparison to the stationary fixed bed reactor, therotary reactor increases the production of energy-rich gases atthe expense of liquid products.The raw materials have strong effect on the yields and theproperties of the pyrolysis products. At equal time oftreatment an increase of the temperature results in a decreaseof the yield of solid residue and improvement of the adsorptioncapacity until the highest surface area is reached. Furtherincrease of the temperature decreases the yield of solidproduct without any improvement in the adsorption capacity. Therate of steam flow influences the product distribution. Theyield of liquid products increases while the gas yielddecreases when the steam flow is increased.Keywords: rapid pyrolysis, pyrolysis, wood, agriculturalresidues,biomass, char, tar, gas, char reactivity,gasification, steam, active carbon