Thermochemical Conversion

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In thermochemical conversion (also called pyrolysis or gasification) dry biomass is decomposed to simpler molecules (gaseous methane and liquid methanol) by high heat. No or little oxygen is used in the process, and no chemical reactions are involved. The methane can be collected and sold by natural gas utilities; methanol (also called wood alcohol) is of great interest in reformers to produce hydrogen for fuel cells or used directly in alternative fuel vehicles. Coal or other carbonaceous materials can be gasified to produce hydrogen, synfuel, and other valuable products (See Transportation).


(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Sims, R., Bioenergy Options for a Cleaner Environment in Developed and Developing Countries, Elsevier, 2003.

Tillman, D., Combustion of Solid Fuels & Wastes, Academic Press, 1991.

Biofuels for Transport: Global Potential and Implications for Energy and Agriculture, The Worldwatch Institute, 2007.

Biomass and Bioenergy, Science Direct Elsevier Science Publishing Company.

External Links

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Biomass Research (

US Department of Energy (

Biomass Energy Research Association (

American Bioenergy Association (