Opportunities and challenges of high‐pressure fast pyrolysis of biomass: A review

Waheed A. Rasaq, Mateusz Golonka, Miklas Scholz, Andrzej Białowiec

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Most pyrolysis reactors require small sizes of biomass particles to achieve high‐quality products. Moreover, understanding the usefulness of high‐pressure systems in pyrolysis is important, given the operational challenges they exhibit specific to various biomass materials. To actualize these aspects, the authors first checked previous reviews involving pyrolysis on different biomass and different conditions/situations with their respective objectives and subsections. From these already existing reviews, the team found that there has not been much emphasis on high-pressure fast pyrolysis and its potential in biomass conversion, showing that it is a novel direction in the pyrolysis technology development. Therefore, this review aims to shed more light on high-pressure fast pyrolysis, drawing from (a) classification of pyrolysis; (b) reactors used in fast pyrolysis; (c) heat transfer in pyrolysis feedstock; (d) fast pyrolysis parameters; (e) properties/yields of fast pyrolysis products; (f) high pressure on pyrolysis process; (g) catalyst types and their application; and (h) problems to overcome in the pyrolysis process. This review increases the understanding regarding high‐pressure fast pyrolysis. An attempt has been made to demonstrate how high‐pressure fast pyrolysis can bring about high‐quality biomass conversion into new products. It has been shown that fluidized bed (bubbling and circulating) reactors are most suitable and profitable in terms of product yield. The high‐pressure, especially combined with the fast-heating rate, may be more efficient and beneficial than working under ambient pressure. However, the challenges of pyrolysis on a technical scale appear to be associated with obtaining high product quality and yield. The direction of future work should focus on the design of high‐pressure process reactors and material types that might have greater biomass promise, as well understanding the impact of pyrolysis technology on the various output products, especially those with lower energy demands. We propose that the increase of process pressure and biomass particle size decrease should be considered as variables for optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5426
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Biochar
  • Biorefineries
  • Catalysts
  • Feedstock
  • Heat transfer
  • Liquid fraction
  • Pressure
  • Pyrolysis process
  • Reactors
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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