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The integration of intermediate pyrolysis and vapour gasification to create and effective and efficient biomass-to-energy system for combined heat and power

Final Report Summary - PYROGAS (The integration of intermediate pyrolysis and vapour gasification to create and effective and efficient biomass-to-energy system for combined heat and power.)

The objective of the PYROGAS project is, through a programme of laboratory and demonstration scale testing, to integrate a pyrolysis process with a gasification process to form the complete PYROGAS concept from feedstock(s) to the delivery of power and heat, and to demonstrate its successful operation on a range of feedstocks.

The PYROGAS concept begins with the Intermediate Pyrolysis of the first feedstock. This feedstock can be a low or negative value waste, possibly with high ash content. The pyrolysis process converts this material into a bio-char which is separated and removed as a valuable product, and also a mixture of condensable vapours and gases which pass forward to the next stage of the process. This is Fluidised Bed Gasification, in which the pyrolysis vapours and gases are co-fed to the gasification reactor along with the second feedstock. The second feedstock will be a higher quality biomass such as wood, and the ratio of this feed to the pyrolysis products can be flexible according to the application. The product gases from the gasification process are finally used to fuel an Internal Combustion Engine for the production of electrical power and heat.


Pyrolysis: the application of heat to solid carbonaceous material in the absence of oxygen, to produce a mixture of condensable vapours (pyrolysis liquids), permanent gases and solid char.

Gasification: the partial oxidation of carbonaceous material (in the form of solids, liquids or condensable vapours), to produce predominantly permanent gases rich in CO and H2.

CHP Generation – IC Engine: the use of a reciprocating internal combustion engine operating on the liquid and / or gaseous products of gasification or pyrolysis, to produce electrical power and usable heat.

The use of biomass, and waste, as a fuel for the production of energy in the form of electrical power and heat has in recent years come to be recognised as a key element in the move to sustainable forms of energy as part of the strategy to combat climate change. Throughout Europe, challenging targets for the provision of bioenergy and reduction in carbon emissions have been identified but progress towards those targets is extremely slow. Thus, to enable a concerted, informed and joint development, this project brings together a leading European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) that has key new patents in the clean and efficient thermal treatment of biomass based on the intermediate pyrolysis process, with a European SME company recognised for its technical and engineering expertise in the provision of gasification technology (WWAG).


Pyrolysis tests at laboratory-scale have been undertaken on a wide range of feedstocks, to study the effect of the operating conditions on the process efficiency and products.

In addition to the hot work, supporting cold-flow testing was carried out on a model Pyroformer to better understand the internal transport of solids around the unit; this provided valuable guidance for the parametric variations being carried out under reacting conditions.

Following thermochemical and characterisation of the products, the pyrolysis liquids have been tested in a diesel engine and the quality of the biochar as soil improver has been assessed.

Several gasification tests have been carried out at demonstration scale, with dataset of gas compositions obtained and a tar sampling system having been implemented following the CEN technical specification.

The gasifier has been coupled to the dual fuel engine (i.e.; the engine was fuelled with both syngas and biodiesel) for the successful delivery of heat and power to the EBRI building.

An economic evaluation of pyrolysis plants at different scales has been conducted, together with their environmental life cycle assessment.


The optimisation of Pyroformer operation based on laboratory scale testing has been achieved, allowing for a better understanding of the process through an extensive testing program both in hot and cold mode, using different feedstocks.

A prototype coupling mechanism to join the demonstration-scale Pyroformer and gasifier was designed, manufactured and installed; it was mechanically tested to serve as a vapour feed system from the Pyroformer to the gasifier.

The gasification demonstration process was fully commissioned; this includes the optimisation of the control system, the implementation of a tar sampling system and the coupling to the CHP engine.

The complete PYROGAS concept could not be demonstrated though, due to technical problems with the large scale Pyroformer.

More detailed information can be found in the project webpage: