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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Distributed-Scale Pyrolysis of Agricultural Biomass for Production of Refinable Crude Bio-Oil and Valuable Coproducts

Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-Products

Project Number: 8072-41000-082-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 29, 2009
End Date: Oct 28, 2014

Develop catalytic and non-catalytic technologies that enable commercially-viable processes for on-farm scale production of stable and transportable pyrolysis oils that meet boiler fuel or refinable crude oil specifications. Sub-Objective 1: Quantify the effect of various agricultural feedstocks (varying in composition, maturation, post-harvest handling, and pre-treatment) on the pyrolysis process efficiency, kinetics, product yield (pyrolysis oil, syngas, and charcoal), and composition. Sub-Objective 2: Develop commercially preferred catalytic and non-catalytic processes for on-farm scale production of stable and transportable pyrolysis oils that meet specifications as boiler fuel or refinable crude oils. Sub-Objective 3: Develop technologies that enable commercially-viable fast pyrolysis and post-pyrolysis processes for biochar production from a variety of agricultural feedstocks.

A stepwise approach will be taken to address the objective by carrying out a series of experiments organized under the three sub-objectives. The first approach will involve screening of biofeedstocks using existing laboratory (desk-top) pyrolysis units to determine their potential use as second generation biomass feedstock. Under this same sub-objective, catalysts with the potential to stabilize pyrolysis liquid, when added to the biomass, will be screened. Under the second sub-objective large scale experiments will be carried out in the ARS fluidized-bed pyrolysis reactor with selected biomass and selected catalysts. Additional experiments will be designed under this sub-objective to explore non-catalytic pathways for producing stabilized pyrolysis oil. The next set of experiments, to be organized under sub-objective 3, will be designed to develop post-pyrolysis processes that will generate biochar with soil-amending, carbon sequestering properties. Modifications, incorporating changes that the experimental outcomes and analyses results will dictate, will be made to the pilot reactor system so as to make it compatible with the distributed scale systems envisioned for the on-farm approach.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014
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