Biofuels from Pyrolysis

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OPEN 2009
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Project Term:
01/01/2010 - 09/30/2013

Technology Description:

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is developing a new pyrolysis process to convert second-generation biomass into biofuels in one simple step. Pyrolysis is the decomposition of substances by heating—the same process used to render wood into charcoal, caramelize sugar, and dry roast coffee and beans. RTI's catalytic biomass pyrolysis differs from conventional flash pyrolysis in that its end product contains less oxygen, metals, and nitrogen—all of which contribute to corrosion, instability, and inefficiency in the fuel-production process. This technology is expected to easily integrate into the existing domestic petroleum refining infrastructure, making it an economically attractive option for biofuels production.

Potential Impact:

If successful, RTI's project would decrease the production cost of domestic biofuels, enabling a cost-competitive alternative to petroleum-based fuel.


Increasing the production of domestic biofuels could help the U.S. cut foreign oil imports by 33% in 15 years.


Domestic biofuels could replace over 1 billion barrels of oil and 58 million tons of coal from 2020-2030 while reducing nearly 700 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


Enabling alternatives to petroleum-based fuels would reduce and stabilize gas prices for consumers.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ping Liu
Project Contact:
Dr. David Dayton
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Archer Daniels Midland Company

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