Saturday, October 5, 2013

Construction of a laboratory scale pyrolysis reactor

     Our pyrolysis reactor designed for the production of biochar was handed for mechanical construction and assembly to a construction and assembly company in Pingtung City and was completed on May 2010. This reactor was used to produce part of the biochar needed for the characterization. Figure 1 shows a schematic of the batch pyrolysis reactor designed at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (Taiwan), and Figure 2 shows the built reactor. 
     This system was able to pyrolyze from 1 to 3kg of biomass (wood pellets, rice husk, and others) per run. The batch reactor vessel is a stainless steel horizontal tube with a diameter of 60 cm x 90 cm (Figure 2). The reactor was heated to temperatures between 250 and 350°C and kept at that temperature for 50 minutes to 1:30 hours, using a gas tank for fire feed. 

     Temperature is monitored using an iron temperature-sensing device that is inserted into open chamber of the drum to give accurate reading of the proceeding.  The pyrolysis vapors were evacuated from the reactor using an excess pipe. After each run, the charred biomass was left inside the reactor until it reached ambient temperature to avoid oxidation with air. 

Figure1. Design of pyrolysis reactor for production of biochar derived from waste biomass. 

     Description: (1) Smoke chimney, (2a) stainless steel mixing arm, (2b) biochar mixing discs, (3) Reactor cover, (4) stainless steel pyrolysis drum, (5) temperature sensor, (6) stainless steel  tube inserted in reactor wall perforation passed through, (7) valve for sensor (placed in the lowest point of the reactor, inside drum reaching floor and fire flame), (8) gas tank, (9) gas-reactor valve, (10) gas feeder tube, (11) fire plate, (12) reactor wheels.

     The final mass of the initial biomass and biochar obtained were determined and the yield of biochar calculated. Table 1, shows the information of the first test realized on the reactor were muskmelon waste was used for this matter and can be observed in figure 3.

Figure 2. Assembled laboratory scale pyrolysis reactor.  

Description: (a) Front view of biochar reactor, (b) Movable capsule inside the reactor, it separates the fire and the biomass during pyrolysis, (c) Temperature sensor, can reach 1000 C, (d) Flat cover avoids oxygen exchange, (e) Concave cover goes after flat cover, helps to direct the smoke emitted while charring to the excess pipe, (f) Reactor cover and excess pipe, (g) valve used to insert temperature sensor during pyrolysis, (h) Inside of reactor,  (i) We count with 2 reactors for our research.

Figure 3. Use of reactor for biochar production.

Description: (a) Dried muskmelon waste, (b) Muskmelon waste inside of the reactor, (c) Reactor feed by gas, (d) and (e)  Flat and concave covers, we can observe how the charcoal is adhered to the flat cover after pyrolysis process, (f) Reactor after biochar production, (g) Final product: muskmelon biochar.

Table 1. Biochar production from muskmelon waste 


  1. This is a nice thread. I am building a pyrolysis unit as part of my master's project and find your work very informative. As I can see you do not collect the produced gas to condensate part of it into bio-oil. Am I right?

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