Ash control methods to limit biomass inorganic content and its effect on fast pyrolysis bio-oil stability

  • Scott Banks

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research investigates specific ash control methods to limit inorganic content within biomass prior to fast pyrolysis and effect of specific ash components on fast pyrolysis processing, mass balance yields and bio-oil quality and stability.
Inorganic content in miscanthus was naturally reduced over the winter period from June (7.36 wt. %) to February (2.80 wt. %) due to a combination of senescence and natural leaching from rain water. September harvest produced similar mass balance yields, bio-oil quality and stability compared to February harvest (conventional harvest), but nitrogen content in above ground crop was to high (208 kg ha.-1) to maintain sustainable crop production.
Deionised water, 1.00% HCl and 0.10% Triton X-100 washes were used to reduce inorganic content of miscanthus. Miscanthus washed with 0.10% Triton X-100 resulted in the highest total liquid yield (76.21 wt. %) and lowest char and reaction water yields (9.77 wt. % and 8.25 wt. % respectively). Concentrations of Triton X-100 were varied to study further effects on mass balance yields and bio-oil stability. All concentrations of Triton X-100 increased total liquid yield and decreased char and reaction water yields compared to untreated miscanthus. In terms of bio-oil stability 1.00% Triton X-100 produced the most stable bio-oil with lowest viscosity index (2.43) and lowest water content index (1.01).
Beech wood was impregnated with potassium and phosphorus resulting in lower liquid yields and increased char and gas yields due to their catalytic effect on fast pyrolysis product distribution. Increased potassium and phosphorus concentrations produced less stable bio-oils with viscosity and water content indexes increasing. Fast pyrolysis processing of phosphorus impregnated beech wood was problematic as the reactor bed material agglomerated into large clumps due to char formation within the reactor, affecting fluidisation and heat transfer.
Date of Award25 Jun 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorTony Bridgwater (Supervisor)


  • fast pyrolysis
  • biomass ash
  • demineralisation
  • potassium and phosphorus impregnation
  • bio-oil quality and stability

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