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Department of Chemistry

Publication details for Dr Philip W. Dyer

Li, Li, Rowbotham, Jack S., Greenwell, H. Christopher & Dyer, Philip W. (2013). An Introduction to Pyrolysis and Catalytic Pyrolysis: Versatile Techniques for Biomass Conversion. In New and Future Developments in Catalysis: Catalytic Biomass Conversion. Suib, Steven L. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 173-208.

Author(s) from Durham


A significant proportion of renewable feedstocks research has been devoted to the production of bio-fuels and bio-chemicals from biomass, primarily via thermochemical conversion processes. This chapter presents an overview of alternative pyrolysis methodologies, which can convert biomass directly into solid (char), liquid (bio-oil), and gaseous products. In this report, the influence of the pyrolysis conditions employed, the design of reactor, and the nature of the biomass feedstock used upon the chemical composition of the product fractions are surveyed. A summary of the mechanisms by which the pyrolysis of the principle biomass constituents occurs is given. This is accompanied by an indication of the complications that arise as a result of the complex and heterogeneous nature of biomass, including the potential roles of the various salts and minerals naturally present in such feeds. From a commercial standpoint, the multi-component nature, different forms and structures of biomass, all pose significant challenges for the utilization of biomass in the manufacture of fuels and chemicals. Consequently, the in and ex situ use of a host of additives and catalysts (including molecular sieves, metal oxides, and transition metal-modified oxides) is reviewed, which have been incorporated in order to provide selectivity in pyrolytic biomass upgrading.