Hydrogen enhanced biofuels for transport via fast pyrolysis of biomass: A conceptual assessment

Kristin Onarheim, Ilkka Hannula, Yrjö Solantausta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The potential to increase biofuel output from a fast pyrolysis-based biorefinery through hydrogen enhancement is assessed for thermal fast pyrolysis (TFP) and catalytic pyrolysis (CAT) processes featuring bio-oil upgrade into gasoline, diesel and heavy hydrocarbon fractions. Results show that utilizing pyrolysis process off-gases to produce synthetic natural gas with an external hydrogen source could provide up to 48.2% (TFP) and 61.2% (CAT) reductions in biomass resource utilization. These savings are enabled by significantly improved carbon efficiency of the hydrogen enhanced designs, with efficiencies increasing from 40.5% to 66.3% for TFP and from 28.9% to 58.6% for CAT. Although the CAT process has a lower biofuel yield than the TFP process, it has a higher potential for hydrogen enhancement and achieves a higher biofuel output than TFP when fully enhanced with external hydrogen. The trade-off to the improved biofuel yield (higher carbon efficiency) is the substantial need for electricity to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, as for every megajoule (MJ) of biomass feedstock, 0.65–0.66 MJ of electricity is needed for the electrolyser.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117337
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This work has been funded by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.


  • Biofuels
  • Biomass resources
  • Biorefineries
  • Hydrogen enhancement
  • Pyrolysis


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