Breakthrough in autothermal pyrolysis

In a public release, a research team representing the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) revealed its studies into pyrolysis, a process of thermal biomass decomposition in ‘an oxygen-free environment’.

The article, published in the Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, used ‘pine sawdust’ and ‘peat straw’ as an example of common biomasses that can be used to generate heat, to the point the process can continue through its own heat release, creating an automated cycle.

Located in Russia, the scientists from TPU source their biomass from the Arkadievsky and Sukhovskoye deposits from the Tomsk Oblast. These variations of straw and wood are the most common biomasses to be collected within Russia.

“However, to replace or just compete with fossil organic raw materials, fuel production out of biomass should become more feasible,” said Roman Tabakaev, a research fellow at the Butakov Research Center and co-author of the study.

This effect for straw and wood is associated with the processes of decomposition of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose during pyrolysis. These processes generate additional heat.

He added, “The experimental and analytical data obtained indicate that during the pyrolysis of straw, chips, sawdust and peat from the Sukhovskoy deposit much heat is released than it is required for their heating. In the case of peat from the Arkadievsky deposit, the thermal effect was less than the cost of heating.”

“In the article, we have shown by calculation the possibility of organizing such an autothermal pyrolysis. This data is confirmed by the results of recent physical experiments with straw, which showed: when the temperature of the straw reaches 365°C, it continues to rise without additional heating, 'independently', to 430°C. Now our task is to physically realize pyrolysis in an autothermal regime with continuous supply of raw materials to the reactor, for which currently we are creating an experimental installation.”

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