Production and Optimization of Bio-Oil from Municipal Wastewater Sludge by Thermal and Catalytic Pyrolysis Process

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, North Tehran branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Biofuel Research Labotary, Caspian Faculty of Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Rezvanshar, Guilan, Iran.


Limited resources and problems caused by fossil fuels consumption, have led researchers to pay attention to reproducible resources. In this study thermal and catalytic pyrolysis process were used to produce bio-oil from sewage sludge. In thermal pyrolysis, the effect of temperature, the heating rate and gas flow rate was investigated and optimum conditions for production of maximum amount of bio-oil with a production yield of 34.7% were determined equal to temperature 525 °C, heating rate of 20 °C/min and gas flow of 0.5 L/min. To improve the quality of bio-oil and reduce the number of oxygenated compounds, four catalysts HZSM-5 (SAR=40), Co/HZSM-5, Ni/HZSM-5 and Mo/HZSM-5 with weight ratios of 1:5 and 1:10 were used. Bio-oil produced by Mo/HZSM-5 catalyst with weight ratio of 1:5 and with factor groups of alkane/alkenes 27.72%, aromatic compounds 6.25 %, oxygenated compounds 5.82%, phenolic compounds 10.75% and high heat value 39.44 MJ/kg. Although the heating value of bio-oil produced from the catalytic pyrolysis of sewage sludge is lower than gasoline and bio-diesel, it is expected that by improving the quality of bio-oil, it will be used instead of fossil fuel in the future.


Main Subjects

Energy, I. and C. Change, World Energy Outlook Special Report. 2015 IEA: Paris, France.
Davie T. Fundamentals of hydrology. Routledge; 2019 Apr 23.
Lu H, Zhang W, Wang S, Zhuang L, Yang Y, Qiu R. Characterization of sewage sludge-derived biochars from different feedstocks and pyrolysis temperatures. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2013 Jul 1;102:137-43.
Zhang L, Xu C, Champagne P, Mabee W. Overview of current biological and thermo-chemical treatment technologies for sustainable sludge management. Waste management & research. 2014 Jul;32(7):586-600.
Yoshida H, Christensen TH, Scheutz C. Life cycle assessment of sewage sludge management: a review. Waste Management & Research. 2013 Nov;31(11):1083-101.
Fonts I, Azuara M, Gea G, Murillo MB. Study of the pyrolysis liquids obtained from different sewage sludge. Journal of analytical and applied pyrolysis. 2009 May 1;85(1-2):184-91.
Chan WP, Wang JY. Comprehensive characterisation of sewage sludge for thermochemical conversion processes–based on Singapore survey. Waste management. 2016 Aug 1;54:131-42.
Alvarez J, Amutio M, Lopez G, Barbarias I, Bilbao J, Olazar M. Sewage sludge valorization by flash pyrolysis in a conical spouted bed reactor. Chemical Engineering Journal. 2015 Aug 1;273:173-83.
Li M, Xiao B, Wang X, Liu J. Consequences of sludge composition on combustion performance derived from thermogravimetry analysis. Waste Management. 2015 Jan 1;35:141-7.
Magdziarz A, Werle S. Analysis of the combustion and pyrolysis of dried sewage sludge by TGA and MS. Waste management. 2014 Jan 1;34(1):174-9.
Nowicki L, Ledakowicz S. Comprehensive characterization of thermal decomposition of sewage sludge by TG–MS. Journal of analytical and applied pyrolysis. 2014 Nov 1;110:220-8.
Gao N, Li J, Qi B, Li A, Duan Y, Wang Z. Thermal analysis and products distribution of dried sewage sludge pyrolysis. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2014 Jan 1;105:43-8.
Shao J, Yan R, Chen H, Wang B, Lee DH, Liang DT. Pyrolysis characteristics and kinetics of sewage sludge by thermogravimetry Fourier transform infrared analysis. Energy & Fuels. 2008 Jan 16;22(1):38-45.
Font R, Fullana A, Conesa JA, Llavador F. Analysis of the pyrolysis and combustion of different sewage sludges by TG. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2001 Apr 1;58:927-41.
Conesa JA, Marcilla A, Moral R, Moreno-Caselles J, Perez-Espinosa A. Evolution of gases in the primary pyrolysis of different sewage sludges. Thermochimica Acta. 1998 Mar 30;313(1):63-73.
Conesa JA, Marcilla A, Prats D, Rodriguez-Pastor M. Kinetic study of the pyrolysis of sewage sludge. Waste Management & Research. 1997 Jun 1;15(3):293-305.
Urban DL, Antal Jr MJ. Study of the kinetics of sewage sludge pyrolysis using DSC and TGA. Fuel. 1982 Sep 1;61(9):799-806.
Fonts I, Gea G, Azuara M, Ábrego J, Arauzo J. Sewage sludge pyrolysis for liquid production: a review. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews. 2012 Jun 1;16(5):2781-805.
Biomass pyrolysis, C.B.C., Senior Research Associate, Energy Institue, The Pennsylvania State University.
Maguyon MC, Capareda SC. Evaluating the effects of temperature on pressurized pyrolysis of Nannochloropsis oculata based on products yields and characteristics. Energy Conversion and Management. 2013 Dec 1;76:764-73.
Dai Q, Jiang X, Jiang Y, Jin Y, Wang F, Chi Y, Yan J. Formation of PAHs during the pyrolysis of dry sewage sludge. Fuel. 2014 Aug 15;130:92-9.
Yu Y, Yu J, Sun B, Yan Z. Influence of catalyst types on the microwave-induced pyrolysis of sewage sludge. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2014 Mar 1;106:86-91.
The research progress of biomass pyrolysis processes, w.f.o.d.t.E.t.e.a.h.
Suopajärvi H, Pongrácz E, Fabritius T. The potential of using biomass-based reducing agents in the blast furnace: A review of thermochemical conversion technologies and assessments related to sustainability. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2013 Sep 1;25:511-28.
Czajczyńska D, Anguilano L, Ghazal H, Krzyżyńska R, Reynolds AJ, Spencer N, Jouhara H. Potential of pyrolysis processes in the waste management sector. Thermal science and engineering progress. 2017 Sep 1;3:171-97.
Azizi K, Moraveji MK, Najafabadi HA. A review on bio-fuel production from microalgal biomass by using pyrolysis method. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2018 Feb 1;82:3046-59.
Cheng F, Cui Z, Chen L, Jarvis J, Paz N, Schaub T, Nirmalakhandan N, Brewer CE. Hydrothermal liquefaction of high-and low-lipid algae: Bio-crude oil chemistry. Applied Energy. 2017 Nov 15;206:278-92.
Fuentes-Cano D, Gómez-Barea A, Nilsson S, Ollero P. The influence of temperature and steam on the yields of tar and light hydrocarbon compounds during devolatilization of dried sewage sludge in a fluidized bed. Fuel. 2013 Jun 1;108:341-50.
Demirbas A. Effects of temperature and particle size on bio-char yield from pyrolysis of agricultural residues. Journal of analytical and applied pyrolysis. 2004 Nov 1;72(2):243-8.
Antal MJ, Grønli M. The art, science, and technology of charcoal production. Industrial & engineering chemistry research. 2003 Apr 16;42(8):1619-40.
Belotti G, de Caprariis B, De Filippis P, Scarsella M, Verdone N. Effect of Chlorella vulgaris growing conditions on bio-oil production via fast pyrolysis. Biomass and Bioenergy. 2014 Feb 1;61:187-95.
Tripathi M, Sahu JN, Ganesan P. Effect of process parameters on production of biochar from biomass waste through pyrolysis: A review. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews. 2016 Mar 1;55:467-81.
Zainan NH, Srivatsa SC, Bhattacharya S. Catalytic pyrolysis of microalgae Tetraselmis suecica and characterization study using in situ Synchrotron-based Infrared Microscopy. Fuel. 2015 Dec 1;161:345-54.
Park HJ, Heo HS, Park YK, Yim JH, Jeon JK, Park J, Ryu C, Kim SS. Clean bio-oil production from fast pyrolysis of sewage sludge: effects of reaction conditions and metal oxide catalysts. Bioresource technology. 2010 Jan 1;101(1):S83-5.
Fonts I, Juan A, Gea G, Murillo MB, Sánchez JL. Sewage sludge pyrolysis in fluidized bed, 1: influence of operational conditions on the product distribution. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. 2008 Aug 6;47(15):5376-85.
Shen L, Zhang DK. An experimental study of oil recovery from sewage sludge by low-temperature pyrolysis in a fluidised-bed☆. Fuel. 2003 Mar 1;82(4):465-72.
Inguanzo M, Domınguez A, Menéndez JA, Blanco CG, Pis JJ. On the pyrolysis of sewage sludge: the influence of pyrolysis conditions on solid, liquid and gas fractions. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2002 Mar 1;63(1):209-22.
Stammbach MR, Kraaz B, Hagenbucher R, Richarz W. Pyrolysis of sewage sludge in a fluidized bed. Energy & fuels. 1989 Mar 1;3(2):255-9.
Khosravanipour Mostafazadeh A, Solomatnikova O, Drogui P, Tyagi RD. A review of recent research and developments in fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. 2018 Sep;8:739-73.
Zeng Y, Zhao B, Zhu L, Tong D, Hu C. Catalytic pyrolysis of natural algae from water blooms over nickel phosphide for high quality bio-oil production. RSC advances. 2013;3(27):10806-16.
Anand V, Sunjeev V, Vinu R. Catalytic fast pyrolysis of Arthrospira platensis (spirulina) algae using zeolites. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2016 Mar 1;118:298-307.
Payormhorm J, Kangvansaichol K, Reubroycharoen P, Kuchonthara P, Hinchiranan N. Pt/Al2O3-catalytic deoxygenation for upgrading of Leucaena leucocephala-pyrolysis oil. Bioresource technology. 2013 Jul 1;139:128-35.
Le TA, Ly HV, Kim J. Catalytic pyrolysis of alga Saccharina japonica using Co/γ-Al2O3 and Ni/γ-Al2O3 catalyst. Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects. 2014 Nov 2;36(21):2392-400.
Aysu T, Fermoso J, Sanna A. Ceria on alumina support for catalytic pyrolysis of Pavlova sp. microalgae to high-quality bio-oils. Journal of energy chemistry. 2018 May 1;27(3):874-82.
Aysu T, Maroto-Valer MM, Sanna A. Ceria promoted deoxygenation and denitrogenation of Thalassiosira weissflogii and its model compounds by catalytic in-situ pyrolysis. Bioresource Technology. 2016 May 1;208:140-8.
Aysu T, Sanna A. Nannochloropsis algae pyrolysis with ceria-based catalysts for production of high-quality bio-oils. Bioresource technology. 2015 Oct 1;194:108-16.
Arazo RO, de Luna MD, Capareda SC. Assessing biodiesel production from sewage sludge-derived bio-oil. Biocatalysis and agricultural biotechnology. 2017 Apr 1;10:189-96.
Folgueras MB, Alonso M, Díaz RM. Influence of sewage sludge treatment on pyrolysis and combustion of dry sludge. Energy. 2013 Jun 15;55:426-35.
Angerbauer C, Siebenhofer M, Mittelbach M, Guebitz GM. Conversion of sewage sludge into lipids by Lipomyces starkeyi for biodiesel production. Bioresource technology. 2008 May 1;99(8):3051- 6.
Rover MR, Hall PH, Johnston PA, Smith RG, Brown RC. Stabilization of bio-oils using low temperature, low pressure hydrogenation. Fuel. 2015 Aug 1;153:224-30.
Yang J, Blanchette D, De Caumia B, Roy C. Modelling, scale-up and demonstration of a vacuum pyrolysis reactor. Progress in thermochemical biomass conversion. 2001 Jun 13;2:1296-311.
Moazezi MR, Bayat H, Tavakoli O, Hallajisani A. Hydrothermal liquefaction of Chlorella vulgaris and catalytic upgrading of product: Effect of process parameter on bio-oil yield and thermodynamics modeling. Fuel. 2022 Jun 15;318:123595.
Biswas B, Singh R, Krishna BB, Kumar J, Bhaskar T. Pyrolysis of azolla, sargassum tenerrimum and water hyacinth for production of bio-oil. Bioresource Technology. 2017 Oct 1;242:139-45.
Verlicchi P, Zambello EJ. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in untreated and treated sewage sludge: Occurrence and environmental risk in the case of application on soil—A critical review. Science of the Total Environment. 2015 Dec 15;538:750-67.
Babich IV, Van der Hulst M, Lefferts L, Moulijn JA, O’Connor P, Seshan K. Catalytic pyrolysis of microalgae to high-quality liquid bio-fuels. Biomass and Bioenergy. 2011 Jul 1;35(7):3199-207.
McLaren J. Sugarcane as a Feedstock for Biofuels. of An Analytical White Paper, prepared for the National Cane Growers Association, by StrathKirn Inc. http://www. ncga. com/file/541. 2009:11.
Ma C, Geng J, Zhang D, Ning X. Non-catalytic and catalytic pyrolysis of Ulva prolifera macroalgae for production of quality bio-oil. Journal of the Energy Institute. 2020 Feb 1;93(1):303-11.
Xie Q, Addy M, Liu S, Zhang B, Cheng Y, Wan Y, Li Y, Liu Y, Lin X, Chen P, Ruan R. Fast microwave-assisted catalytic co-pyrolysis of microalgae and scum for bio-oil production. Fuel. 2015 Nov 15;160:577-82.
Feng H, Zhang B, He Z, Wang S, Salih O, Wang Q. Study on co-liquefaction of Spirulina and Spartina alterniflora in ethanol-water co-solvent for bio-oil. Energy. 2018 Jul 15;155:1093-101.
Di Blasi C. Modeling chemical and physical processes of wood and biomass pyrolysis. Progress in energy and combustion science. 2008 Feb 1;34(1):47-90.
Scott DS, Piskorz J. The flash pyrolysis of aspen‐poplar wood. The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering. 1982 Oct;60(5):666-74.
Dabros TM, Stummann MZ, Høj M, Jensen PA, Grunwaldt JD, Gabrielsen J, Mortensen PM, Jensen AD. Transportation fuels from biomass fast pyrolysis, catalytic hydrodeoxygenation, and catalytic fast hydropyrolysis. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. 2018 Sep 1;68:268-309.
Pourkarimi S, Hallajisani A, Alizadehdakhel A, Nouralishahi A. Biofuel production through micro-and macroalgae pyrolysis–A review of pyrolysis methods and process parameters. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis. 2019 Sep 1; 142:104599.