The Upgrading of Bio-Oil from the Intermediate Pyrolysis of Waste Biomass Using Steel Slag as a Catalyst

Joaõ Santos, Hessam Jahangiri*, Muhammad Asif Bashir, Andreas Hornung, Miloud Ouadi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Catalytic pyrolysis is a complex system where the selection of an efficient, cheap, abundant, and stable catalyst is vital to upgrade pyrolysis products to biofuels. Steel slag (SS) can be considered as an inexpensive catalyst, making it a very economical option. SS has a high content of calcium, iron, and magnesium, making this solid compound catalytically active. This study investigated the utilization of SS as a sacrificial catalyst in pyrolysis experiments using a thermocatalytic reforming (TCR) process to produce an upgraded bio-oil and syngas. In the first part of this work, SS was mixed with sugarcane bagasse (SB) and oat hulls (OH) biochar (in different trials) in the postreformer at different ratios (0, 30, 70, and 100 wt % of SS). In the second part, SS (powder) was pelletized directly with raw OH at different ratios (0, 10, 20, and 30 wt % of SS in the feed composition) and introduced into a pyrolysis reactor. The introduction of SS into SB in the reformer improved the higher heating value (HHV) from 29.1 MJ/kg (0 wt % of SS) to 35.5 MJ/kg (100 wt % of SS). Introducing 30 wt % of SS into OH in the feed showed a higher calorific value and lower acidity, viscosity, and density in comparison with using SS with different ratios in the reformer. The use of SS as a catalyst was found to significantly improve the quality and the properties of bio-oil and syngas, revealing an innovative pathway for its use as an inexpensive sacrificial catalyst for biofuel production via the TCR process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18420-18432
Number of pages13
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the EPSRC (EP/N021746/1) for financial support. Tarmac a CRH Company (UK) is thanked for the provision of steel slag.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biofuels
  • Catalytic pyrolysis
  • Steel slag
  • Thermocatalytic reforming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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