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Economic tradeoff between biochar and bio-oil production via pyrolysis


  • Jonathan Yoder
  • Suzette Galinato
  • David Granatstein
  • Manuel Garcia-Perez

    () (School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University)


This paper examines some of the economic tradeoffs in the joint production of biochar and bio-oil from cellulosic biomass. The pyrolysis process can be performed with different final temperatures, and with different heating rates. While most carbonization technologies operating at low heating rates result in higher yields of charcoal, fast pyrolysis is the technology of choice to produce bio-oils. Varying operational and design parameters can change the relative quantity and quality of biochar and bio-oil produced for a given feedstock. These changes in quantity and quality of both products affect the potential revenue from their production and sale. We estimate quadratic production functions for biochar and bio-oil. The results are then used to calculate a product transformation curve that characterizes the yields of bio-oil and biochar that can be produced for a given amount of feedstock, movement along the curve corresponds to changes in temperatures, and it can be used to infer optimal pyrolysis temperature settings for a given ratio of biochar and bio-oil prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Yoder & Suzette Galinato & David Granatstein & Manuel Garcia-Perez, 2009. "Economic tradeoff between biochar and bio-oil production via pyrolysis," Working Papers 2009-25, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wsu:wpaper:yoder-8

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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Tristan R. & Thilakaratne, Rajeeva & Brown, Robert C. & Hu, Guiping, 2013. "Regional differences in the economic feasibility of advanced biorefineries: Fast pyrolysis and hydroprocessing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 234-243.

    More about this item


    biochar; bio-oil; pyrolysis; biomass conversion; economic tradeoff;

    JEL classification:

    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation


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