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Fast pyrolysis of microalgae remnants in a fluidized bed reactor for bio-oil and biochar production

Wang, Kaige, Brown, Robert C., Homsy, Sally, Martinez, Liliana, Sidhu, Sukh S.
Bioresource technology 2013 v.127 pp. 494-499
Chlorella vulgaris, amides, amines, biochar, biomass, carboxylic acids, crop production, energy content, energy recovery, feedstocks, fluidized beds, hydrocarbons, lipids, microalgae, molecular weight, nitrogen, nutrients, phenols, potassium, pyrolysis, topography
In this study, pyrolysis of microalgal remnants was investigated for recovery of energy and nutrients. Chlorella vulgaris biomass was first solvent-extracted for lipid recovery then the remnants were used as the feedstock for fast pyrolysis experiments using a fluidized bed reactor at 500°C. Yields of bio-oil, biochar, and gas were 53, 31, and 10wt.%, respectively. Bio-oil from C. vulgaris remnants was a complex mixture of aromatics and straight-chain hydrocarbons, amides, amines, carboxylic acids, phenols, and other compounds with molecular weights ranging from 70 to 1200Da. Structure and surface topography of the biochar were analyzed. The high inorganic content (potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen) of the biochar suggests it may be suitable to provide nutrients for crop production. The bio-oil and biochar represented 57% and 36% of the energy content of the microalgae remnant feedstock, respectively.