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Bioresour Technol. 2006 Jul;97(11):1272-83. Epub 2005 Jul 28.

Superheated steam pyrolysis of biomass elemental components and Sugi (Japanese cedar) for fuels and chemicals.

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  • 1Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan. sage@iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp


To develop a novel noncatalytic biomass refinery process that can be used as a portable process, superheated steam pyrolysis was investigated to produce both carbonized solid fuels and chemicals using a large-scale reactor. Individual biomass components and native biomass (Sugi, Japanese cedar) were pyrolyzed. Between 150 and 400 degrees C, the vaporizing fractions of cellulose, xylan, and kraft lignin were summarized using a numerical model. Cellulose was converted to glycolaldehyde, furfural, 5-hydroxymethyl furfural and levoglucosan, whereas xylan was converted to glycolaldehyde, furfural, and acetic acid. Kraft lignin produced a slight yield of phenol and guaiacol. The total vaporization fraction of Sugi and its vaporizing rate were explained sufficiently using a numerical model based on the weighted average of the vaporizing properties of the individual components. However, the yields of phenol, guaiacol, and acetic acid were underestimated, while the yields of furfurals and levoglucosan were overestimated. Possible synergetic effects among chemicals in the superheated steam pyrolysis of native biomass were also discussed.

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