Effect of Temperature on Oil Quality Obtained through Pyrolysis of Sugarcane Bagasse

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Kaparaju, Laxmi Narasimha Prasad

Herat, Sunil

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Yu, Qiming

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In the last few centuries the world-wide energy demand rose to a stage were traditional power-supply networks struggle to satisfy the necessary supply of energy. Consequently, humanity is still largely dependent on every energy source possible and primarily environmentally unfriendly sources such as coal, fossil-oils, nuclear etc. Governments world-wide finally realised that those recourses are limited and began to subsides renewable energy solutions such as solar and wind energy, but by neglecting the fact that those sources have problems to supply energy 24/7 to the customers. Pyrolysis from bio feedstock is one of the technologies which can not only produce oil and gas for generators as well as fertiliser, but also conquer another problem arising from modern society, garbage reduction. Pyrolysis does exist for many years now, but the technology has not often been employed due to high initial investments, maintenance, and other factors. Furthermore, most of the conducted pyrolysis laboratory experiments also focused on expensive setups, catalysts etc., which create potentially good results, but consequently the pyrolysis process continued of being unaffordable for private consumers and especially for smaller businesses, such as farmers. Several research projects focussed on the yield output, rather than the quality of the oil which could be used for power generation. As a result, the usage of the oil was not suitable for generators or even for storing, due to impurities as well as due to forming of aromatics which occur very often in the aim of maximising the yield output and causes wax deposits, which can cause severe damage in machines operated with fuel produced from this oil. In this research pyrolysis experiments were conducted with the focus on increasing the oil quality by changing the temperature parameters, with a setup which is as simple as possible in order to make the setup mainstream capable, but also with the possibility of upscaling in mind. Although there are numerous feedstocks to choose from, sugarcane bagasse was chosen to be the feedstock of this research. This feedstock appears to be ideal, as the consumption and therefore the sugarcane bagasse waste rose significantly in the last century. At first the simplistic test rig was designed to determine the most suitable heating ramps and finally to investigate maximum temperatures from 300⁰C up to 650⁰C, based on the literature review conducted. This returned an overall picture at what temperature the best possible oil output for this feedstock and simplistic set-up can be. After analysis of the different oil outputs, the temperature range was more refined and the ramp, which proved to be the best, was fixed. The final analysis is conducted in a narrowed temperature band of 450⁰C to 550⁰C and showed very promising results at 550⁰C not only in regard of a 11% increase of the higher heating value, which would mean that if a person consumes an average of 800kwh per year and everybody on this planet would use pyrolysis as a primary energy source, 38 million tonnes less of feedstock would be needed per year world-wide. Furthermore, storage capabilities of oil produced by 550⁰C showed an immense storage capability improvement, due to a very low amount of aromatics in comparison to temperatures above and below 550⁰C. Furthermore, the analysis was repeated four months after the experiments to observe any build-up of wax deposits from possible aromatics. The results were found to be exactly the same in regard to the HHV as well as the FTIR spectra of oil. Overall the research project proved that pyrolysis can be affordable, but also can produce good quality oil at the same time. Consequently, pyrolysis can play a vital role in the run for sustainable energy resources in the future.

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Thesis (Masters)

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Master of Philosophy (MPhil)


School of Eng & Built Env

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Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)

Chemical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Oil quality


Sugarcane bagasse


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