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Examining the fast pyrolysis of wood into bio-oils

Scion of New Zealand is a Crown research institute that specializes in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors. Scion has been involved in bioenergy and biofuels research for many years. With most of the country’s electricity derived from natural, renewable resources such as water, geothermal and wind, the focus of this work currently centers on liquid transport biofuels.

SUSTER designed, built and delivered a pilot plant to Scion to examine the fast pyrolysis of wood into bio-oils. These oils can then be further refined into transport fuels or bio-chemicals. The plant is capable of converting 1 kg of wood each hour into about 750 mL of raw pyrolysis oil. The pyrolysis reactor vaporizes small particles of wood by rapidly heating them to approximately 500°C in the absence of oxygen. The vapors are then quenched, producing the oil. The whole reaction and quenching takes place in seconds.