Van de Beld B et al. The use of pyrolysis oil and pyrolysis oil derived fuels in diesel engines for CHP applications. Applied Energy (2012),

An experimental study on the use of pyrolysis oil in diesel engines for CHP applications, L. van de Beld, E. Holle, J. Florijn, 19th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, 6-10 June 2011, pp. 1181-1187.

Using biomass-based fuels including pyrolysis liquids for power and CHP production, L. van de Beld, J. Vos, J. Florijn, A. Kronberg, M. Glouchenkov, M. Sprenkeler, D. Chiaramonti, AM Rizzo, V Kirillov, N. Khripach, L. Lezhnev, B. Papkin, AV Bridgwater, E. Wylde, A. Alcala, S. Silin, 18th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, May 201, Lyon.

Bio-oil as a coal substitute in a 600 MWe Power Station, BM Wagenaar, RH Venderbosch, W Prins, F Penninks, 12th European Conference and technology Exhibition on Biomass for Energy, Industry and Climate Protection, 17-21 June 2002, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

BioSlurryTM for co-firing and gasification, Pyrolysis and gasification of Biomass and Waste, RH Venderbosch, BM Wagenaar, E Gansekoele, J Florijn, 2002, Strasbourg, France, 289-297.


For more information please contact Bert van de Beld.


Contact +31 (0)53 486 1186

Energy from pyrolysis oil

Pyrolysis oil can be used in several applications to produce heat, electricity and cooling. BTG is actively working on, or involved in development work in the following areas:

  • (co-) Combustion
  • Compression-Ignition Engines
  • Turbine

(Co-) Combustion

Energy from pyrolysis oil

The first large co-combustion test with pyrolysis oil was carried out in 2003 in cooperation with Electrabel. In Harculo they own and operate a gas-fired power station of 350 MWe. Specifically for this test BTG produced roughly 15 ton of pyrolysis oil in their pilot plant. A couple of months after production, the oil was co-fired in the power plant at a rate of about 1.5 t/hr. The test was successful and no operational problems were encountered.

Burner development

Compared to conventional fuels the main difference is storage, feeding system and burner. For end-users it is important to get guarantees from the burner suppliers that the burners are suitable for pyrolysis oil. Recently, Stork Thermeq (Netherlands) and Dreizler (Germany) carried out combustion tests with BTG pyrolysis oil on their burners. These test were successful and full commercial guarantees can be provided. Also see the website of BTG Bioliquids for more details.

Compression Ignition Engines

Energy from pyrolysis oil

Application of a conventional compression-ignition (CI) engine (’Diesel engine’) is an efficient way of converting liquid fuels into power, heat and cooling. In particular for low capacities (< 1 MWe) it can be economically attractive. BTG’s development started with a standard CI-engine, which has been adapted to run on pyrolysis oil. However, the properties of pyrolysis oil are very different from diesel, and obviously some modifications are needed to the engine:

  • Pyrolysis oil is acidic and therefore all piping and devices in contact with pyrolysis oil should be corrosion resistant;
  • Oil contains typically 20-25 wt% water, lubrication is poor and small particles (< 20 um) might be present;
  • The viscosity of pyrolysis oil is higher than of mineral diesel, and strongly depends on water content and temperature;
  • Pyrolysis oil is sensitive to re-polymerisation, in particular, if temperature rises above 50-60 °C. Re-polymerisation may result in small particles in the oil and increase in viscosity;
  • Pyrolysis oil is more difficult to ignite, and higher temperatures are required at the end of the compression stage to achieve complete combustion;
  • The Heating Value of pyrolysis oil is about half the value of diesel.

Engine test facility

The basis of the BTG’s test set-up is a one-cylinder, 20 kWe diesel engine. This Engine has successfully been adapted to enable fuelling of pyrolysis oil.

Energy from pyrolysis oil


The first gas turbine to operate on pyrolysis oil was developed by Orenda based on a 2.5-MWe Class GT2500 engine designed and manufactured by Zorya-Mash-proekt in the Ukraine. The gas turbine was modified to fire multiple fuels: pyrolysis oil derived from wood and wood waste products, ethanol, biodiesel and bituminous crude oil. According to publically available data, the turbine performed very well with 100% pyrolysis oil, under different load conditions and during fuel switching. Unfortunately, due to limited pyrolysis oil availability total operating hours are also limited to a few hundred hours.

In 2010, the Netherlands based company OPRA BV performed combustion tests with pyrolysis oil supplied by BTG-BTL. OPRA is supplier of the robust and reliable 1.8 MWe OP16 gas turbine. Based on these tests, OPRA is modifying the combustion chambers of its gas turbine allowing 100 % pyrolysis oil firing.