Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Foster A. Agblevor


Foster A. Agblevor


Ronald Sims


Issa Hamud


To satisfy the energy demand of the ever-increasing world population as well as to prevent environmental pollution arising from the use of fossil fuels, an alternate source of energy has to be developed. Biomass has the potential to provide a renewable energy source that is inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.), previously considered as a weed, has now been found to be an ideal source of bio-fuel production. The focus of this research was to produce upgraded bio-oil by a process known as catalytic fast pyrolysis. A characterization and a temperature degradation profile study helped to understand that the biomass can be converted to energy-rich bio-oil and also provided information for designing the pyrolysis process. The influence of operational conditions was investigated using suitable experimental design. The optimum reaction condition was found to be at a temperature of 500 °C and a gas flow rate of 24 l/min.

Catalytic fast pyrolysis was demonstrated in a fluidized bed reactor by using HZSM-5, a commercial catalyst, and red mud, which is an industrial waste product. Both catalysts improved the quality of the bio-oil. However, red mud was found to be more effective than HZSM-5. The bio-oil produced from catalytic pyrolysis of red mud had almost a neutral pH, a similar density as water and a heating value of 35.7 MJ/kg (which is equivalent to 89% of petroleum derived heavy fuel oil). In the case of HZSM-5, the pH and heating value of the bio-oil were 5.7 and 33.63 MJ/kg, respectively. The bio-oil obtained from catalytic pyrolysis of field pennycress is predicted to have a vital contribution to the bio-energy sector.