Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 17–32 | Cite as

Biomass pyrolysis: past, present, and future

  • Tamer Y. A. FahmyEmail author
  • Yehia Fahmy
  • Fardous Mobarak
  • Mohamed El-Sakhawy
  • Ragab E. Abou-Zeid


Biomass pyrolysis is a promising renewable sustainable source of fuels and petrochemical substitutes. It may help in compensating the progressive consumption of fossil-fuel reserves. The present article outlines biomass pyrolysis. Various types of biomass used for pyrolysis are encompassed, e.g., wood, agricultural residues, sewage. Categories of pyrolysis are outlined, e.g., flash, fast, and slow. Emphasis is laid on current and future trends in biomass pyrolysis, e.g., microwave pyrolysis, solar pyrolysis, plasma pyrolysis, hydrogen production via biomass pyrolysis, co-pyrolysis of biomass with synthetic polymers and sewage, selective preparation of high-valued chemicals, pyrolysis of exotic biomass (coffee grounds and cotton shells), comparison between algal and terrestrial biomass pyrolysis. Specific future prospects are investigated, e.g., preparation of supercapacitor biochar materials by one-pot one-step pyrolysis of biomass with other ingredients, and fabricating metallic catalysts embedded on biochar for removal of environmental contaminants. The authors predict that combining solar pyrolysis with hydrogen production would be the eco-friendliest and most energetically feasible process in the future. Since hydrogen is an ideal clean fuel, this process may share in limiting climate changes due to CO2 emissions.

Graphical Abstract


Sustainable and renewable energy sources Fossil-fuel alternatives Biomass pyrolysis Biofuel (bio-oil, biogas, biochar) Charcoal (activated carbon) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamer Y. A. Fahmy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yehia Fahmy
    • 1
  • Fardous Mobarak
    • 1
  • Mohamed El-Sakhawy
    • 1
  • Ragab E. Abou-Zeid
    • 1
  1. 1.Cellulose and Paper DepartmentNational Research CenterCairoEgypt

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