Master of Science in Biological and Agricultural Engineering (MSBAE)


Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Document Type



The increasing demand for energy coupled with a growing concern that the combustion of fossil fuels has on the environment, through the production of greenhouse gases, has created a demand for renewable energy sources. The demand for renewable energy, particularly liquid transportation fuels, can be met in part by the use of biomass based liquid fuels. There are several methods that can be used to produce biomass based fuels, but only thermochemical conversion (pyrolysis) can readily convert lignocellulosic biomass into a fuel-like liquid, bio-oil. The pyrolytic conditions for obtaining maximum liquid yields vary, but many of the criteria can be met with an inductively heated pyrolysis reactor. The goal of this research project was to design, build, and test an inductively heated pyrolysis reactor for the purpose of producing liquid bio-oil. An initial induction pyrolysis system was design and tested using pine sawdust as a model biomass to generate reaction times needed for different operating temperatures. The generated time data was then used to test the biomass to observe its behavior under different operating conditions. The initial results showed a maximum liquid yield of 36.5 % at 500 °C. However, it was observed that bio-oil vapors were escaping from the collection system, and an electrostatic precipitator was added to the system. The updated system was tested using: pine sawdust, cellulose, lignin, energy cane bagasse, and Chinese tallow tree wood, as biomass feedstock materials. It was discovered that the pine sawdust’s liquid yields improved by up to 19 % for the system with a maximum yield of 55 % at 600 °C. The cellulose component was observed to contribute mainly to the liquid yields of the sawdust and the lignin contributed the majority of the bio-char. The energy cane yielded less liquid (48.9 %), but with a lower water content in the liquid the maximum oil yields for energy cane and pine sawdust were the same. The tallow tree wood yielded less liquid than the other two biomasses (38.1 %) indicating higher biomass thermal stability. Results indicate that induction heating is effective for pyrolysis of biomass.



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Committee Chair

Boldor, Dorin

Included in

Engineering Commons