Direct Thermochemical Liquefaction

Countries Canada, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and USA


Mr Alan Zacher
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Chemical and Biological Processing
902 Battelle Boulevard
P.O. Box 999, MSIN P8-60
Richland, WA 99352

Tel:  +1 509-372-4545
Fax: +1 509-372-4732


1.         Definition and Objective

(a)  Definition

 ‘Pyrolysis’ is the controlled thermal degradation of biomass in any form to derive valuable energy and chemical products.


(b)  Objective

The Task will continue the previous work of the Task with a focus on facilitating commercialisation of biomass pyrolysis, and particularly fast pyrolysis to maximise liquid product yield and production of renewable fuel oil and transportation fuels by contributing to the resolution of critical technical areas and disseminating relevant information particularly to industry and policy makers. The Task will retain its focus on information exchange, technology review, implementation, and assessment of market opportunities. A new element will be to review the field of pyrolysis of biomass in order to identify both technical and non-technical barriers to more rapid and wider spread implementation of the technology. Case studies and Round Robins will continue to play an important role in the programme of work.

2.         Scope of the Task

(a)     The Participants will have R&D programmes within their countries in order to meet the above objectives;


(b)     The Participants will carry out co-operative research work towards reaching the objectives described in paragraph 1(b) above, based on the national R&D programmes referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above;


(c)     The Programme of Work will focus on resolution of technical issues to aid successful commercial implementation of pyrolysis by:

–     Dedicated and focused regular meetings including focused seminars/workshops and technical tours

–     Information dissemination through the Pyrolysis Task newsletter, which will continue to be published electronically twice per year, and through the Task 34 website;

–     A programme of work based on the traditional approach of IEA Bioenergy with a well-defined technical and non-technical work programme, which is delegated to Topic Leaders to form small groups of participants to contribute;

–     Information exchange with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks such as the thermal biomass conversion Tasks including preparation of comparable techno-economic assessments for bio-oil gasification and combustion; preparation of LCA studies of the TEAs, and biorefinery activities based on pyrolysis

–     ExCo interaction and support.


Topic Groups have proved very successful in promoting a high level of Member participation, attracting a high proportion of industrialists to meetings, and providing a stimulating and lively forum. The topics to be included in the new work programme are:

–     Review of bio-oilapplications – The group will identify the leading applications and the technical and non-technical barriers to commercialisation. Issues such as market size, resource size, and bio-oil property impacts will be evaluated.

–     Bio-oil standardisation – The Task will seek to support the implementation of standard methods for the use of bio-oil. Specific efforts will include the establishment of CEN standards as required for use of bio-oil as a burner fuel, both heavy and light grades, internal combustion engine fuel, as well as feedstock to gasification and refinery co-processing, as specified in the recent Draft Mandate from EC.

–     Round robin for analytical method valuation – In the coming triennium a Round Robin will be organised to further evaluate analytical methods. Suggested candidate methods include analysis of sulphur, nitrogen and chlorine content methods involving the range of modern analytical instrumentation and consideration of the range of sensitivity of each, an improved thermal aging test for evaluating bio-oil stability to use liquid bath heating systems or better controlled atmospheric systems, and sustained combustion.

–     TEA of thermochemical liquefaction technologies – The comparative TEAs will be derived from an initial review of potential process options for transformation of biomass to transportation fuels through pyrolytic routes. The expectation is that representative process models can be developed including detailed process flow diagrams, mass and energy balances, equipment sizing and costing with overall operating and capital cost calculations performed on a uniform basis, which allows useful internal comparison.

–     Collaboration with Tasks 32, 33, 38, 39 and 42 –  To increase inter-Task collaboration, five Topic areas have been identified for cooperation with Tasks 32, 33, 38, 39 and 42:

  • Techno-economic Assessment of Bio-oil Gasification;
  • Techno-economic Assessment of Bio-oil Combustion for CHP;
  • Use of TEAs for LCAs;
  • Data Base Development;
  • Biorefinery Pyrolysis TEE Development.

Meetings will be held at approximately 6 month intervals and will typically comprise a regular Task meeting with a Seminar or Workshop and/or a Technical Visit. Seminar/Workshops will feature invited speakers with an emphasis on industrial and commercial organisations. This approach has proved very successful in the past Task and has resulted in an excellent two-way interaction between participants of the Task and external organisations. Each meeting will devote a portion of the session to country reports to facilitate exchange of research developments among the participants. The meetings will be open to external participation from those countries participating in the Task

There has been extensive interest by industrialists in the Task workshops. This interest will be developed – more workshops and meetings will be held to meet the identified requirements of companies involved in producing and using bio-oil and in producing and using equipment for these purposes. To achieve this, the Task will work with pyrolysis technology developers and providers to help identify and define their problems and help to provide solutions both from within the group and externally. Similarly the Task will co-operate with applications developers and equipment manufacturers to help them understand more about bio-oil and its properties and requirements. This close co-operation is considered the most effective way of identifying and promoting opportunities for bio-oil to make a significant impact on renewable energy supplies.