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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

Lin Wei


The aim of this work was to produce advanced liquid bio-fuels through thermal conversion of the pine sawdust. Combining an experimental two-stage catalytic pyrolysis system, two rounds of experiments were carried out to investigate the optimal reaction temperature for the HZSM-5 catalyst and the optimal Mo/Cu ratio with regard to Mo- Cu/HZSM-5 catalysts for obtaining qualified bio-fuels. In the first round of experiments, the pine sawdust thermal conversions over HZSM-5 catalysts were performed under different reaction temperatures in the experimental two-stage catalytic pyrolysis system. It was observed that higher temperatures in the catalytic reactor decreased the yield of bio-oil. However, the bio-oil quality was improved. The GC-MS analysis results of the liquid products showed that the pyrolysis reaction at 500 °C and catalytic reaction at 500 °C treatment obtained the highest hydrocarbon content (58.63%) and the highest C8-C12 content (48.03%) in the oil phase. Along with the water content, density, and pH characterization of bio-oils, the pyrolysis reaction at 500 °C and catalytic reaction at 500 °C using HZSM-5 catalyst treatment was further demonstrated as the optimal temperature to achieve low viscosity and higher HHV bio-oils. The XRD characterization indicated that HZSM-5 catalysts had no crystal lattice changes before or after use, which makes HZSM-5 catalyst regeneration possible. In the second round of experiments, Mo-Cu/HZSM-5 catalysts were prepared by an impregnation method. The Mo-Cu/HZSM-5 catalysts and HZSM-5 were characterized xi by Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). All characterization results indicated that the introduction of CuO is beneficial to the dispersion of MoO3 in the HZSM-5. Combined with the two-stage catalytic pyrolysis system, the Mo-Cu/HZSM-5 catalysts were used for pine sawdust thermal conversion. The products included syngas, bio-oil and bio-char. The syngas was analyzed by gas chromatography (GC). Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to identify the compounds in bio-oils. The water content, higher heating value (HHV) and viscosity of bio-oils were measured. The HHV and composition of bio-char were determined. The results indicated that Mo (3%)-Cu (3%)/HZSM-5 treatment yielded the highest amount of light hydrocarbons, showed a robust ability to convert methane in the syngas to bio-oil, and displayed no significant difference in the properties of bio-char when compared to different treatments in the same pyrolysis conditions.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biomass conversion
Biomass energy


Includes bibliographical references (pages 63-72)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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