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Pyrolytic Conversion of Biomass to Biochar, Biocrude, and Electricity

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Projects in Alternative Energy

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1092.1 - 25.1092.8



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Paper Authors


David H. Domermuth Appalachian State University

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David Domermuth is a professor at Appalachian State University where he has been teaching for 22 years. His career began in metals manufacturing and has shifted to furniture and now industrial design. Domermuth teaches the engineering aspects of product design. He has three degrees in mechanical engineering and has lived abroad for five years. His research focus is alternative energy, beginning with ocean geothermal, and moving to biomass pyrolosis. His primary hobby is road biking with 30 years of riding in the Appalachian mountains.

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Pyrolytic Conversion of Biomass to Biochar, Biocrude, and ElectricityAbstract –The primary source of alternative energy is the sun. Biomass is the most abundantsolar conversion system besides weather. Pyrolosis of biomass is one of the most promisingtechnologies for energy conversion. This paper describes the efforts of our local university (notnamed) to convert the woody waste stream to useful products. The work includes downdraftgasification, biochar production, agricultural tests with biochar, combined heat and powerscenarios, and the current work of distilling volatilized biomass. The system has six potentialrevenue streams and promises to be the best of the pyrolosis conversion techniques. Biomass,usually chipped wood, is volatilized to release the hydrocarbons as fuel gas and smoke. Thecurrent aspect of this project is the condensation of smoke/wood tar as a means of separationfrom the fuel gas. The six potential revenue products are, waste stream elimination, biocharproduction, biocrude production, heat, carbon sequestration, and fuel gas. The project focus forthis research is small scale application, home, farm, and community. The goal is the creation of aviable method of augmenting building heating while producing useful products from pyrolosis.The work is sponsored by and EPA, P3 student grant. The paper also describes the studentinteraction and the merits of research based teaching.Keywords: gasification, biocrude, syngas, producer gas, pyrolosis, renewable energy, biochar,EPA P3 grant.

Domermuth, D. H. (2012, June), Pyrolytic Conversion of Biomass to Biochar, Biocrude, and Electricity Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21849

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