EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 4: Biomass Pyrolysis and Pretreatment

Lesson 4: Biomass Pyrolysis and Pretreatment Overview

This week’s lesson continues with thermal processes for biomass conversion, this time concentrating on pyrolysis; pyrolysis is heating material in an inert environment. In addition to providing an in-depth explanation of this process, this lesson will also discuss the various chemical structures found in biomass (essentially in lignocellulosic biomass) and pretreatments that are done to make the materials more amenable for fuel production.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain how pyrolysis is different from gasification and combustion;
  • explain how the products are made and used as fuels and chemicals;
  • determine which thermal process is best to use depending on biomass source and product utilization;
  • describe the basic chemical structures of biomass, namely lignocellulosic biomass;
  • evaluate pretreatment options for lignocellulosic options and explain why they are necessary.

Lesson 4 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and assignment due dates.


If there is anything in the lesson materials that you would like to comment on or don't quite understand, please post your thoughts and/or questions to our Throughout the Course Questions and Comments discussion forum. The discussion forum will be checked regularly. While you are there, feel free to post responses to your classmates if you are able to help. Regular office hours will be held to provide help for EGEE 439 students.