Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 739–773 | Cite as

A review of recent research and developments in fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading

  • Ali Khosravanipour MostafazadehEmail author
  • Olga Solomatnikova
  • Patrick DroguiEmail author
  • Rajeshwar Dayal Tyagi
Review Article


The depletion of fossil fuels and the negative impacts of their extraction and combustion on the environment have encouraged scientists and industrial stakeholders to explore the development of alternative, renewable energy resources such as bio-oil, which can be produced from biomass by fast pyrolysis. The main disadvantages of crude bio-oils derived from fast pyrolysis are their poor quality caused by the presence of water and oxygen compounds, high viscosity, instability during storage, and their low heating value and high acidity (corrosiveness). To overcome these shortcomings and improve the properties of bio-oils, several techniques have been proposed. The present review provides an in-depth survey of recent studies in the field of fast pyrolysis of biomass and bio-oil upgrading. Different methods and various processes, including novel techniques such as those making use of plasma reactor and microwave-assisted approach, the use of algae as biomass, and pyrolysis under supercritical conditions, are reviewed to explore and critically assess the proposed improvements. We also examine recent advances in the field of bio-oil upgrading, focusing on chemical and catalytic processes such as the combination of fast pyrolysis, bio-oil upgrading utilizing zeolite and nonzeolite catalysts, and computational simulation methods. Finally, we assess recent progress in the improvement of the properties of the ultimate product and review the pros and cons of pyrolysis and upgrading techniques for bio-oils. We conclude with a section examining future challenges, perspectives, as well as the commercial feasibility/viability of fast pyrolysis and bio-oil upgrading.

Graphical abstract

Due to energy crisis and environmental issues, biofuel production is inevitable in the near future. In this regard, one of the most significant methods is fast pyrolysis of biomass (lignocellulosic materials such as woody biomass, agricultural waste, and algae) and bio-oil upgrading. Various physical and chemical techniques such as hydrodeoxygenation, in situ and ex situ catalytic upgrading, plasma reactor, and microwave-assisted process are reviewed by taking a look at the challenges and solutions.


Fast pyrolysis Bio-oil upgrading Biomass Catalytic upgrading Physical property improvement Novel techniques 



Ash factor


Activation energy distribution model


Aliphatic hydrocarbons


Bond dissociation energies




Blue-green algae blooms


Benzene, toluene, xylene


Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes


Computational fluid dynamics


Catalytic fast pyrolysis


Carbon nanofibers


Chemical percolation devolatilization


Distributed activation energy model


Dielectric barrier discharge


Direct hydrodeoxygenation


Density functional theory


Double numerical plus polarization


Electrostatic precipitator


Fluid catalytic cracking


Fast pyrolysis




Generalized gradient approximation






Higher heating value


Integrated catalytic pyrolysis


Internally interconnected fluidized bed reactor


Jatropha seedshell cake




Kinetic Monte Carlo


Lower heating value


Liquid hourly space velocity


Monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Microwave-assisted pyrolysis


Mass flow control


Microwave-assisted pretreatment in the presence of formic acid


Noncondensable gases




Oxygenated organic compounds


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Projector-augmented wave


Pyrolysis oil


Plasma reactor


Revised Perdew-Burke-Ernzerhof


Supercritical fluid


Solid-phase extraction


Turnover frequency


User-defined functions


Vienna ab initio simulation package



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Centre-Eau Terre EnvironnementUniversité du QuébecQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche Industrielle du Québec (CRIQ)QuébecCanada

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