Pyrolysis and Combustion Kinetics of Raw and Carbonized Cottonwood and Switchgrass Agroforests

Sammy Sadaka, Hal Liechty, Matt Pelkki, Michael Blazier


Raw biomass is not commonly suitable as feedstock for existing power plants, mainly because of the substantial required infrastructural changes. As a result, most raw feedstock requires pre-treatment to improve its physical and thermal characteristics. Biomass carbonization is one of the pre-treatments that produces charcoal-like feedstock. This paper explores the effects of the carbonization process on the physiochemical characteristics of biomass produced from two cottonwood clones, S7C20 and ST66, and switchgrass (var. Alamo). Additionally, it studies the thermal degradation kinetics of raw and carbonized agroforestry products in nitrogen and air environments. Feedstock samples were carbonized in a batch reactor at 400 °C in an oxygen-free environment for 2 hours. Carbonization decreased biomass bulk density, moisture content, and volatile solids while increasing fixed carbon, ash content, pH, and heating values. The heating value of S7C20, ST66, and switchgrass increased by 58.6%, 60.3%, and 69.7%, respectively. Carbonization increased the activation energy values under the condition of pyrolysis and decreased these values under the condition of combustion. The carbonization process produced a charcoal-like feedstock that may be processed with coal or even replace it.


TGA; Thermochemical; Carbonization; Oxidation; Thermal degradation

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022,; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, URLs:; ISSN: 1930-2126