Thermochemical characterisation of straws and high yielding perennial grasses

Charles Greenhalf, Daniel Nowakowski, Anthony Bridgwater, James Titiloye, Nicola Yates, Andrew Riche, Ian Shield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The research is concerned with thermochemical characterisation of straws and high yielding perennial grasses. Crops selected for this study include wheat straw (Triticum aestivum), rape straw (Brassica napus), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and switch grass (Panicum virgatum). Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was used to examine the distribution of char and volatiles during pyrolysis up to 900 °C. Utilising multi-heating rate thermogravimetric data, the Friedman iso-conversional kinetic method was used to determine pyrolysis kinetic parameters. Light and medium volatile decomposition products were investigated using pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py–GC–MS) up to 520 °C. The 22 highest yielding identifiable cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin biomass markers were semi-quantified taking into consideration peak areas from GC chromatograms. Notable differences can be seen in butanedioic acid, dimethyl ester (hemicelluloses decomposition products), 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol (lignin marker) and levoglucosan (intermediate pyrolytic decomposition product of cellulose) content when comparing perennial grasses with straw. From results presented in this study, perennial grasses such as switch grass, have the most attractive properties for fast pyrolysis processing. This is because of the observed high volatile yield content of 82.23%, heating value of 19.64 MJ/kg and the relatively low inorganic content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • biomass
  • pyrolysis
  • kinetics
  • thermogravimetric analysis
  • Py–GC–MS


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