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Thermochemical Conversion

Gasification and pyrolysis use heat and pressure to convert various biomass feedstocks to alcohol and hydrocarbon fuels, chemicals, and power. Both process can be applied to any biomass feedstock, complement biochemical work by converting lignin-rich non-fermentable material left over from high-starch feedstocks conversion, and enhance fuel yields in integrated biorefineries by combining conversion types with heat and power efficiencies to produce fuel and products.


In gasification conversion, lignocellulosic feedstocks such as wood and forest products are broken down to synthesis gas, primarily carbon monoxide and hydrogen, using heat. The feedstock is then partially oxidized, or reformed with a gasifying agent (air, oxygen, or steam), which produces synthesis gas (syngas). The makeup of syngas will vary due to the different types of feedstocks, their moisture content, the type of gasifier used, the gasification agent, and the temperature and pressure in the gasifier.

Zero Point Clean Tech is a commercial biomass gasification pilot facility located in Potsdam, NY.


In pyrolysis processing, biomass feedstocks are broken down using heat in the absence of oxygen, producing a biooil that can be further refined to a hydrocarbon product. The decomposition occurs at lower temperatures than gasification processes, and produces liquid oil instead of a synthesis gas. Oil produced varies in oxygen content or viscosity according to the feedstock used.

Content taken from EERE website.