Catalytic Microwave Pyrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass for Fuels and Chemicals

Q. Bu, H. M. Morgan, J. Liang, H. Lei, R. Ruan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


The undesirable properties (e.g., low heating value, high viscosity, and thermal and chemical instability) of the pyrolyzed products have prompted us to enhance the selectivity of desired products by using catalysts during biomass pyrolysis. Microwave-assisted pyrolysis (MAP) induces heating within the core of the substance through a direct energy conversion, which improves the products selectivity and energy efficiency and reduces the capital cost comparing with conventional pyrolysis. The present study evaluated the development of catalytic MAP of lignocellulosic biomass for fuels and chemicals. Metal oxides and zeolites (such as CaO, NiO, K2CO3, MgO, CuSO4, AlCl3, MgCl2, HZSM-5) are the two types of catalysts that are most commonly used for catalytic MAP of lignocellulosic biomass. Results showed that the addition of catalysts/additives (such as activated carbon, silicon carbide, char) usually had a positive effect on heating rate and volatiles yield, and the biomass conversion rate and the products selectivity (such as phenols, guaiacols, hydrocarbons, furfural, furans contained in liquid product, H2, CO included in syngas) were obviously improved. Technoeconomic assessments suggested that small distributed biomass energy production systems were technologically more feasible and economically more viable for MAP of biomass, and microwave-assisted ex situ catalytic pyrolysis of plants was profitable. However, before its industrial scale up, a lot of technical barriers need to be overcome for catalytic MAP of biomass, such as the design of reactor, development of cost-effective catalyst, heating uniformity, optimization of reaction conditions, kinetics study, and reaction mechanism disclosure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Bioenergy
EditorsYebo Li, Xumeng Ge
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages55
ISBN (Print)9780128095225
StatePublished - Jan 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Bioenergy
ISSN (Electronic)2468-0125

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by National Science Foundation of China (Award Number: 31500494), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (Award Number: BK20140972), Opening Fund of Key Laboratory of Biomass Energy and Materials in Jiangsu Province (Award Number: JSBEM2014011), School of Agricultural Equipment Engineering at Jiangsu University, the Priority Academic Program of the Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD), and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture (Award Number: 2015-67021-22911; Award Number: 2016-67021-24533).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Catalyst
  • Conventional pyrolysis
  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Microwave pyrolysis
  • Selectivity


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