Unravelling the mechanisms of microwave pyrolysis of biomass

John Robinson, Eleanor Binner, Daniel Beneroso Vallejo, Nidia Diaz Perez, Khalid Al Mughairi, John Ryan, Benjamin Shepherd, Mohamed Adam, Vitaliy L Budarin, Jiajun Fan, Mark J. Gronnow, Felipe Peneranda-Foix

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This study uses empirical observations and mass transfer simulations to establish a new mechanism for microwave pyrolysis of biomass. Experiments were conducted on cellulose and hemicellulose, using microwave equipment that could vary the observed heating rate. No microwave-absorbing additives were used. At high heating rates it is shown categorically that microwave pyrolysis can significantly reduce the pyrolysis temperatures for hemicellulose and cellulose, but when microwave heating is used to deliver a low heating rate the pyrolysis behaviour is identical to that obtained with conventional heating. Dielectric properties are shown to vary by over an order of magnitude depending on the heating rate. The implications of heating rate on mass transfer and phase behaviour are developed and discussed within the paper, with liquid-phase water identified as a key driver for the observed differences in the microwave pyrolysis process. This is the first study in microwave pyrolysis that is able to reconcile microwave heating phenomena against simple and well-understood mass transfer and phase equilibria effects. As a result, a number of processing strategies have emerged with the potential to use microwave heating to enable more selective pyrolysis and bio-oils with more targeted quality than has been possible with conventional approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number132975
Issue number3
Early online date15 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022

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© Elsevier B.V., 2021. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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