Pyrolysis of biomass, the new specifications

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by Peppe Croce

With the publication of the technical specification UNI / TS 11446:2012 by the Committee of Italian Heat becomes clearer the regulatory landscape on so-called "pyrolytic bioliquids" for energy use. These bioliquids, together with syngas, is one of the two products of pyrolysis of biomass.

They can in turn be recycled as fuel to produce heat or electricity, but they have always faced two problems: their poor quality and, above all, their lack of uniformity.

The characteristics of the bioliquids by pyrolysis, in fact, very much depend on the original biomass and the type of pyrolysis used. The new technical standards begin to bring order to the question bioliquids defining the classification.

The UNI / TS 11446:2012 also defines the specific Bioliquids pyrolytic in origin ligno-cellulosic ones Bioliquids from the entire supply chain of oils and fats and their raw materials, the only animal oils and fats, the algal material, from their mixtures and mixtures.

The new data sheet, however, does not apply to bioliquids obtained not only from biomass pyrolysis (pyrolysis also applies to the processing waste of hydrocarbons). There are finally included in the new data sheet even bioliquids pyrolytic used for automotive, chemical and food uses.

The process of pyrolysis, even with the new technical standards, is still in the balance between being considered a miracle of technology and be judged the same way as incineration.

Fall under the definition of biomass, even the biodegradable fraction of municipal and industrial waste, there are many who consider  pyrolysis plants little more than incinerators in disguise. The technicians, however, state that even in the case of  pyrolysis waste emissions of a pyrolysis system are not comparable to those of an incinerator, because of the high temperatures reached in the system.

Temperatures that should in theory at least prevent the formation of dioxins, furans and, thanks to the fact that the pyrolysis (as well as the gasification) do not anticipate the release of oxygen in step (or, more correctly, "stage" as technically the  pyrolysis plants and gasifiers are "stage incinerators") of biomass burning. This, however, clashes with the fact that the biomass itself inevitably contains a certain amount of oxygen.

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