Catalytic pyrolysis of agricultural residues for bio-oil production
Agricultural residues from Thailand, namely stalk and rhizome of cassava plants, were employed as raw materials for bio-oil production via fast pyrolysis technology. There were two main objectives of this project. The first one was to determine the optimum pyrolysis temperature for maximising the organics yield and to investigate the properties of the bio-oils produced. To achieve this objective, pyrolysis experiments were conducted using a bench-scale (150 g/h) reactor system, followed by bio-oil analysis. It was found that the reactor bed temperature that could give the highest organics yield for both materials was 490±15ºC. At all temperatures studied, the rhizome gave about 2-4% higher organics yields than the stalk. The bio-oil derived from the rhizome had lower oxygen content, higher calorific value and better stability, thus indicating better quality than that produced from the stalk. The second objective was to improve the bio-oil properties in terms of heating value, viscosity and storage stability by the incorporation of catalyst into the pyrolysis process. Catalytic pyrolysis was initially performed in a micro-scale reactor to screen a large number of catalysts. Subsequently, seven catalysts were selected for experiments with larger-scale (150 g/h) pyrolysis unit. The catalysts were zeolite and related materials (ZSM-5, Al-MCM-41 and Al-MSU-F), commercial catalysts (Criterion-534 and MI-575), copper chromite and ash. Additionally, the combination of two catalysts in series was investigated. These were Criterion-534/ZSM-5 and Al-MSU-F/ZSM-5. The results showed that all catalysts could improve the bio-oils properties as they enhanced cracking and deoxygenation reactions and in some cases such as ZSM-5, Criterion-534 and Criterion-534/ZSM-5, valuable chemicals like hydrocarbons and light phenols were produced. The highest concentration of these compounds was obtained with Criterion-534/ZSM-5.