Campus Units

Mechanical Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Bioeconomy Institute (BEI)

Document Type


Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis




The thermochemical conversion of biomass via fast pyrolysis requires detailed descriptions of both the kinetic and heat and mass transport rates, which are often in direct competition. To investigate the evolution of products, whole biomass and biomass constituents (e.g. cellulose and lignin) are pyrolyzed in a novel optically accessible reactor. This enables real-time, in situ observation of the temporal evolution of light-oxygenates, volatile sugars, and phenolic compounds during melting, agglomeration, ejection, and volatilization of biomass under realistic heating rates (∼100 K/s). Both cellulose and lignin underwent liquefaction, but liquid coalescence in lignin limits vapor transport. This is overcome by dispersing extracted lignin in an inert matrix, and confirms the predominant mass transport of pyrolysis products from whole biomass, cellulose, and lignin occurs via devolatilization. These results differ from prior work on single-particle pyrolysis and reveal thermochemical mechanisms that are relevant for typical large-scale pyrolysis processes with transport limitations.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Tiarks, Jordan A., Chloe E. Dedic, Terrence R. Meyer, Robert C. Brown, and James B. Michael. "Visualization of physicochemical phenomena during biomass pyrolysis in an optically accessible reactor." Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaap.2019.104667. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Elsevier B.V.



File Format


Available for download on Friday, August 06, 2021

Published Version