Thermochemical Biomass Conversion
Much consideration has been paid to the investigation of the thermochemical conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals since the oil crises of the 1970s; and current environmental and economic conditions, such as global warming and volatile global oil prices, have fueled a resurgent interest in research focusing on novel conversion pathways. The most noticeable interest has been in the development of biological conversion routes for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals from ligno-cellulosic materials. There is a growing interest; however, in thermochemical conversion pathways such as slow-pyrolysis, fast-pyrolysis and gasification as independent conversion processes and for use with biological conversion in integrated bio-refineries. Additionally, biomass combustion is being further employed for heat and power systems due to its lower CO2 intensity.
The abovementioned thermochemical conversions – pyrolysis, gasification and combustion – share many of the same physical and chemical sub-processes that characterize the conversion. The aim of the thermochemical biomass conversion research group is aimed at the development of predictive multi-scale models of the chemical and physical conversion of biomass. Our current work is focused on fluidized bed gasification for syngas production, however many of these methods have general application to other conversions such as thermochemical pretreatments - torrefaction - as well as fast pyrolysis to bio-oil.