One of the goals of the Department of Energy is to develop energy-efficient technologies and to develop effective forms of renewable energy. Currently, the only available source of renewable liquid fuels is from the biochemical and thermochemical conversion of biomass. Pyrolysis is a thermal decomposition process that involves the heating of biomass in the absence of oxygen. One of the products of pyrolysis – bio-oil – can be upgraded for use as an alternative fuel source. This bio-oil has a high oxygen content which lowers its energy density. It is also chemically unstable and not miscible with conventional fuels. It is therefore necessary to upgrade the oil through hydrotreating or catalytic cracking. The objective of this work was to calibrate a pyroprobe-microreactor for studying catalytic upgrading of bio-oil. Pyrolysis of washed cellulose, with and without a zeolite catalyst, was carried out using a CDS Pyroprobe 5150. Samples were heated to temperatures between 500 and 600 °C for 15 seconds. Products were analyzed using a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer. Temperature calibrations were done to investigate an inconsistency between the setpoint temperature on the software and the actual temperature of the sample during pyrolysis. The sample temperatures were more than 100 °C lower than the setpoint temperatures. Initial results for the catalytic reactions showed that the catalyst was effective at removing oxygen from pyrolysis bio-oil vapors. Future work will investigate the effect of different loading methods of the biomass and catalyst during the pyrolysis reaction.


Kristiina Iisa

Lab site

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/7


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