High pressure thermal treatment (HPTT) is a new process developed by BTG and University of Twente with the potential to economically reduce the oxygen and water content of oil obtained by fast pyrolysis (pyrolysis oil), properties that currently complicate its co-processing in standard refineries. During the HPTT process, pyrolysis oil undergoes a phase split yielding a gas phase, an aqueous phase and an oil phase. In this study, HPTT experiments were carried out at different operating conditions in a continuous tubular reactor. Experimental results showed that, with increasing temperature and residence time, the release of gases (mainly CO2) and the production of water increased, reducing the oxygen content of the oil phase and hence increasing the energy content (from 14.1 to 28.4 MJ/kg) having the temperature a larger effect when compared to the residence time. Using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), an increase of the molecular weight of the oil phase, probably due to polymerisation of the sugars present in pyrolysis oil, was observed. When water was added as solvent to dilute the feed oil, a decrease of the molecular weight of the resulting oil phase was observed. This indicated that the concentration of organic components had a direct effect on the formation of high molecular weight components. In conclusion, during HPTT an oil with lower oxygen and water content with higher energy value was produced, but adverse formation of high molecular weight components was also detected.
- Pyrolysis oil
- High pressure thermal treatment