(639m) Comprehensive Study of Pilot-Scale Fast Pyrolysis Data, 2015 to 2017

Gaston, K. R., National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Wilcox, E., NREL
The Thermochemical Process Development Unit (TCPDU) at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is a pilot-scale facility in which unit operations can be configured in several ways to conduct research on thermochemical conversion of biomass. Over the last two years, fast pyrolysis experiments have been performed in the TCPDU on seven feedstocks and blends to prepare for and complete a Field-to-Fleet Verification for the Department of Energy. The result is a large data set that includes operational data; mass and carbon balances and yields; detailed light gas, char, and oil characterization; and real-time, molecular beam mass spectrometer (MBMS) analysis of the pyrolysis vapors. Fast pyrolysis oil samples and data from these experiments are also being leveraged by projects across the National Laboratory network, such as chemical analysis method development, material compatibility, hydrotreating research, reactor modelling and model validation, and technoeconomic analysis.

After the first round of experiments, several equipment upgrades were made to the TCPDU to solve operational problems that arose while running the new feedstocks. The time put into process improvements resulted in improved mass closures and product consistency. Improvements are evidenced by the quality of data collected during two, 200-gallon production campaigns, in which the same operating conditions were run repeatedly. Oil, char, light gas, and produced water yields over these runs were all very consistent. The oil properties, such as ultimate/proximate analysis, water content, carbonyl content, and acids, also had very low standard deviations across the runs.

This work will primarily discuss results from the experiments (including multivariate analysis), will demonstrate the effect of the equipment upgrades on data quality, and will briefly touch on the impacts of these efforts.