Prevent Persistent Plastic: Get Fired Up About Pyrolysis!

Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels via Pyrolysis

This video does a good job of explaining Pyrolysis, in this case, Thermochemical. Pyrolysis is a viable solution to preventing  persistent plastic. Instead of increasing waste in landfills or having plastic end up in our oceans, the end product is high-quality biofuel.

What are biofuels?

biofuel is produced through biological processes, such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes such as fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from pre-historic biological matter.

Biofuels are derived from plants or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial wastes. Biofuels are made through the use or conversion of biomass to convenient energy-containing substances with thermal conversion, chemical conversion, and biochemical conversion. This biomass conversion can result in fuel in solid, liquid, or gas form. This new biomass can also be used directly for biofuels.

Bioethanol can be produced from crops such as corn, sugarcane, or sweet sorghum or non-food sources, such as trees and grasses.  Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form or as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions.

Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as an additive to reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons emissions from diesel-powered vehicles.


Why make biofuels?

Fossil fuels are derived from pre-historic sources, which we know are limited and create major environmental impacts. We can’t go back in time and create more pre-historic sources – someday, those sources will be gone, no matter how much drilling and fracking goes on. As these sources become more scarce, production prices will increase. Many scientists and even oil companies are now saying the use of fossil fuels this past century has directly contributed to global warming.


Biofuels can prevent plastics from persisting in our environment.

Biofuel production can help lead us to global sustainability. Pyrolysis can mitigate and turn around plastic pollution. Our oceans are full of microplastics from Plastic Pollution in food chains with unknown health risks not only to ocean animals but those who consume them (that would be us!). Besides the health effects, who want to see plastic on our beaches, in lakes and streams, not to mention increasing landfills at alarming rates.

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Video Credit: BioenergyKDFChannel Published on Sep 24, 2012. Fundamental work is being conducted by the Department of Energy that provides a solid understanding of the chemistry of biomass pyrolysis, including stabilization and upgrading of bio-oil, the potential applications of pyrolysis liquids, and the requirements for engineering systems that can produce fuels and chemicals via biomass pyrolysis on a large scale.