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Elwin Gansekoele

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Pyrolysis oil properties

BTG-BTL’s fast pyrolysis produces a liquid product from almost any type of ligno-cellulosic biomass. The pyrolysis oil contains a very low amount of ash, and has a volumetric energetic density which is 5 to 20 times higher than the original biomass. Pyrolysis oil from biomass are typically red/brown liquid with a pungent odor. A wide variety of functional groups (such as acids, aldehydes, ketones, carbohydrates, furans, pyrans, aromatics, hydrocarbons) are present in the oil, and several of them can even be present in a single component. The density of the liquid is about 1170 kg/m3, which is denser than fuel oil and significantly denser than the original biomass. The higher heating value (HHV) of pyrolysis oil is 16-23 MJ/l compared to fossil fuel which is 37 MJ/l. Pyrolysis oil has a low pH value of around 3, which must be taken into account in its handling and use. If poorly produced the oil has a tendency to age (degrade). However BTG-BTL oil has been applied successfully after having been stored for over a year.

Due to large amount of oxygenated components present, the oil has a polar nature and does not mix readily with hydrocarbons. The degradation products from the biomass constituents include organic acids (like formic and acetic acid), giving the oil its low pH. Water is an integral part of the single-phase chemical solution. The (hydrophilic) bio-oil have water contents of typically 15 - 35 wt.%. Typically, phase separation does occur when the water content is higher than about 30 to 45 %. Below an example of properties from typical wood-derived pyrolysis oil is given.

 

Property Unit Value
C
H
N
O (Balance)
wt%
wt%
wt%
wt%
46
7
< 0.01
47
Water content
Ash content
Solids content
Density
wt%
wt%
wt%
kg/Ltr
25
0.02
0.04
1,2
LHV
LHV
pH
Kinematic viscosity (40 °C)
MJ/kg
MJ/Ltr
-
cSt
16
19
2.9
13