Upgrading of pyrolysis oils


Upgrading (c) Thünen-Institut
Upgrading (© Thünen-Institut)

Development of a combined process for pyrolysis oil upgrading using bio-ethanol and hydrogen

Globally, researchers are involved in finding optimal processes for the conversion of biomass into liquid fuels and platform chemicals. Pyrolysis liquids are an important intermediate product. However, they need upgrading to be used in the petroleum based infrastructure. Our project is aimed at investigating wether esterification and acetalization with subsequent hydrotreatment are viable routes.

Background and Objective

The project aims at improving substantially the properties of a crude bio-oil for use in both, engines or conventional refineries and as feedstock for platform chemicals such as aromatics and cycloalkanes. Acid and water content as well as viscosity should be reduced and storage stability increased. It is envisaged to retain most of the energy originally present in biomass. Thus, we could contribute to save 60 % of green house gas (GHG) emissions. Hence, new perspectives will be opened for agriculture and forestry by utilization of dry biomass residues.


We test catalysts in batch and continuous reactors using commercial catalysts from industry. We will vary process parameters such as time and hydrogen pressure to study mechanical long term stability and activity. We want to operate a continuous multi-stage hydrogenation unit at laboratory scale for product characterization and mass balance estimation.

Our Research Questions

Is it possible to upgrade pyrolysis liquids in such a way that they can be fed into conventional refinery processes?



Involved Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)
    (national, öffentlich)