Life cycle analysis of fuel production from fast pyrolysis of biomass

Jeongwoo Han*, Amgad Elgowainy, Jennifer B. Dunn, Michael Q. Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


A well-to-wheels (WTW) analysis of pyrolysis-based gasoline was conducted and compared with petroleum gasoline. To address the variation and uncertainty in the pyrolysis pathways, probability distributions for key parameters were developed with data from literature. The impacts of two different hydrogen sources for pyrolysis oil upgrading and of two bio-char co-product applications were investigated. Reforming fuel gas/natural gas for H2 reduces WTW GHG emissions by 60% (range of 55-64%) compared to the mean of petroleum fuels. Reforming pyrolysis oil for H2 increases the WTW GHG emissions reduction up to 112% (range of 97-126%), but reduces petroleum savings per unit of biomass used due to the dramatic decline in the liquid fuel yield. Thus, the hydrogen source causes a trade-off between GHG reduction per unit fuel output and petroleum displacement per unit biomass used. Soil application of biochar could provide significant carbon sequestration with large uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Biofuels
  • Fast pyrolysis
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Petroleum savings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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