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The search for methods of converting ligno-cellulosic biomass to liquid fuels has led to the development of several technologies for the production of "bio-oil" by high heating rate or fast pyrolysis. Bio-oil is a dark, more or less viscous and pungent liquid, which differs from the traditional sedimentation tars associated with slow pyrolysis. The latter are mainly secondary pyrolysis products, are relatively oxygen poor, insoluble in water and contain large amounts of simple phenols, hydrocarbons, etc. Bio-oil on the other hand is highly oxygenated and increases in yield under fast pyrolysis conditions indicating that it is composed principally of primary pyrolysis products so that its chemical composition directly reflects that of the feedstock from which it derives.

Non-fuel utilisation of bio-oil requires identification of novel products and the development of new processes for their separation or production. Significant development and marketing efforts are required to bring these concepts to fruition.

The paper examines briefly some of the chemical processes occurring in bio-oil generation, at least in so far as they relate to the character of the product. This is followed by a discussion of some relevant physico-chemical properties. Some important areas of deficiency of information are highlighted. A variety of products, which have been proposed or developed to date, are then discussed. These include those based on whole bio-oil or gross fractionation classes of it, as well as individual chemical products, which can be isolated from bio-oil.

Additional information

Authors: RADLEIN D, RTI - Resource Transforms International Ltd, Waterloo, Ontario (CA)
Bibliographic Reference: A chapter in "Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass: a handbook, Volume 1", EUR 18913. CPL Press, 1999. 194pp. 35 pounds sterling
Availability: Available from: CPL Press, Liberty House, The Enterprise Centre, New Greenham Park, Newbury, RG19 6HW, UK Tel: +44-1635-817408 Fax: +44-1635-817409 Email:
ISBN: 1-872691-07-2
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