(544r) Fast Pyrolysis of Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch (EFB) for Bio Oil Production

Authors: 
Dolah, R., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Karnik, R., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Hamdan, H., Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Yahaya, H., Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
The depletion of known petroleum reserves necessitates the development of new renewable energy-based solutions as alternatives to petroleum-based transportation fuels. Agricultural and other lignocellulosic biomass, such as oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB), is abundant in Southeast Asia and has potential as a renewable resource for the production of bio-oil that can subsequently be upgraded or blended with conventional fuels. Fast pyrolysis process is one of the most promising technologies to convert biomass to bio-oil, but its use for the conversion of EFB to bio-oil has not been sufficiently developed. Here, a pyrolysis reactor is designed and built to process up to 10 kg of EFB at a time, using 1% w/w zeolite Y or X as catalyst. The catalyst enables the fast pyrolysis reactor to operate at a lower temperature (320 ºC). The reactor is designed to be fitted into a 20x8x8 feet container that can be attached to a truck, to support the mobility of the apparatus, effectively acting as a self-contained mobile unit that can be moved to different sites of EFB generation. The mobile apparatus consists of the following parts: shredder, grinder, mixer, pyrolysis reactor, condenser, and water chiller. Prior to processing on the mobile apparatus, EFB is pre-treated in NaOH solution to remove the lignin and expose the fibrous cellulose, washed in water, and sun-dried. The EFB is then processed on the mobile apparatus, which includes shredding, grinding, pyrolysis, and condensation. The results show that the pre-treated EFB has an average lignin removal of 50% compared to the untreated EFB. After pyrolysis and condensation, the percentage yield of undesirable phenolic compounds is lower than the hydrocarbon compounds with a yield of ~30% w/w of bio oil.

Keywords:

Biomass renewable energy, fast pyrolysis, empty fruit bunch, bio-oil production, zeolite catalyst

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