Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass for Energy and Fuels
Bioenergy is now accepted as having the potential to provide the major part of the projected renewable energy provisions of the future as biofuels in the form of gas, liquid or solid fuels or electricity and heat. There are three main routes to providing these biofuels — thermal conversion, biological conversion and physical conversion — all of which employ a range of chemical reactor configurations and process designs. This paper focuses on fast pyrolysis from which the liquid, often referred to as bio-oil, can be used on-site or stored or transported to centralised and/or remote user facilities for utilisation for example as a fuel, or further processing to biofuels and/or chemicals. This offers the potential for system optimisation, much greater economies of scale and exploitation of the concepts of biorefineries. The technology of fast pyrolysis is described, particularly the reactors that have been developed to provide the necessary conditions to optimise performance. The primary liquid product is characterised, as well as the secondary products of electricity and/or heat, liquid fuels and a considerable number of chemicals. The main technical and non-technical barriers to the market deployment of the various technologies are identified and briefly discussed.