Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


Dr. Franco Berruti and Dr. Cedric Briens


Bio-fuels are renewable and clean which can be used as alternatives to fossil fuels or can be used in combination with them. Biomass is a main source of bio-fuels production: it is a renewable resource and its conversion to energy releases no net CO2 to the environment.

Bio-oil, the valuable liquid product obtained from biomass through pyrolysis, may be either combusted to generate carbon-neutral electricity or converted to a synthesis gas from which chemicals or clean fuels can be produced. Producing bio-oil from biomass and then converting the bio-oil to syngas has several advantages: The bio-oil may be generated in distributed or mobile plants and then shipped to a central facility for conversion to syngas, thus avoiding the expensive transportation of bulky and perishable biomass. The syngas produced from bio-oil is cleaner than syngas produced directly through biomass gasification. Finally, valuable green chemicals may be extracted from the bio-oil before it is converted to syngas.

This thesis focuses on investigation of syngas production from bio-oil through thermal and catalytic reactions. Low bio-oil conversion and syngas yield were achieved from thermal cracking experiments in a pilot plant bubbling fluidized bed. A novel induction heated batch-wise micro reactor was designed and developed to test catalysts for bio-oil gasification. Catalytic gasification of bio-oils in this micro reactor revealed that a syngas with desired yield can be produced from bio-oil with maximum conversion provided there is a suitable catalyst and sufficient operating conditions such as temperature, residence time and steam in the reactor.