Fast pyrolysis: lowest-cost route to biofuels, renewable chemicals?

October 3, 2011 |

In Iowa, Iowa State University’s Robert C. Brown and a team of researchers said that pyrolytic molasses, made via  fast pyrolysis of feedstocks such as such as corn stalks or wood chips, has the potential to be the cheapest way to produce biofuels or biorenewable chemicals.

At tcbiomass2011, the International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science in Chicago Sept. 28-30, Brown will highlight thermochemical technologies developed by 19 Iowa State research teams, including processes that increase the yield of sugar from fast pyrolysis of biomass with a pretreatment that neutralizes naturally occurring alkali, prevent burning of sugar released during pyrolysis by rapidly transporting it out of the hot reaction zone, recover sugar from the heavy end of bio-oil that has been separated into various fractions, and separate sugars from the heavy fractions of bio-oil using a simple water-washing process.

The work has been supported by the eight-year, $22.5 million ConocoPhillips Biofuels Program at Iowa State. The program was launched in April 2007. “The Department of Energy has been working for 35 years to get sugar out of biomass,” Brown said. “Most of the focus has been on use of enzymes, which remains extremely expensive. What we’ve developed is a simpler method based on the heating of biomass.”

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Category: Fuels

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