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This website is designed and maintained by Aston University on behalf of Task 34 of the IEA Bioenergy Agreement through the Implementing Agreement on Bioenergy, which forms part of a programme of international energy technology collaboration undertaken under the auspices of the International Energy Agency.

The IEA Bioenergy Task 34 for Direct Thermochemical Liquefaction supports the operation of this website for the interaction of researchers with commercial entities in the field of biomass pyrolysis.  Current participants in the Task from January 2016 onwards are Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK with leadership provided by the USA. The scope of activities in the new Triennium 2016-2018 will include hydrothermal liquefaction and the upgrading of bio-oil and biocrude to hydrocarbon liquid fuels alongside fast pyrolysis. Fast pyrolysis is the means to production of high yields of a liquid product and is the focus of this Task.  Fast pyrolysis bio-oil has been defined by the following description and is now recognized with a CAS number 1207435-39-9.

 "Liquid condensate recovered by thermal treatment of lignocellulosic biomass at short hot vapour residence time (typically less than about 5 seconds) typically at between 450-600C at near atmospheric pressure or below, in the absence of oxygen, using small (typically less than 5 mm) dry (typically less than 10% water) biomass particles.

 A number of engineered systems have been used to effect high heat transfer into the biomass particle and quick quenching of the vapour product, usually after removal of solid byproduct "char", to recover a single phase liquid product. 

Bio-oil is a complex mixture of, for the most part, oxygenated hydrocarbon fragments derived from the biopolymer structures.  It typically contains 15-30% water.  Common organic components include acetic acid, methanol, aldehydes and ketones, cyclopentenones, furans, alkyl-phenols, alkyl-methoxy-phenols, anhydrosugars, and oligomeric sugars and water-insoluble lignin-derived compounds.  Nitrogen- and sulfur-containing compounds are also sometimes found depending on the biomass source."

The overall objective of Task 34 will be to improve the rate of implementation and success of direct thermochemical liquefaction of biomass for fuels and chemicals by contributing to the resolution of critical technical areas and disseminating relevant information, particularly to industry and policy makers. The following are the priority topics for the Triennium identified by the Task.

 Priority Topics for Task 34

  • Provide support for commercialisation through standards development
  • Validate applicable analytical methods for product evaluation
  • Facilitate information exchange with stakeholders
  • Support technoeconomic assessment of liquefaction technologies

Pyrolysis comprises all steps in a process from reception of biomass in a raw harvested form to delivery of a marketable product as liquid fuel, heat and/or power, chemicals and char byproduct.  The technology review may focus on the thermal conversion and applications steps, but implementation requires the complete process to be considered.  Process components as well as the total process are therefore included in the scope of the Task, which will cover optimization, alternatives, economics, and market assessment.

The work of the Task will address the concerns and expectations of the following:

  • Pyrolysis technology developers
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Chemical producers
  • Policy makers
  • Investors
  • Bio-oil applications developers
  • Bio-oil users
  • Utilities providers
  • Decision makers
  • Planners

Industry will be actively encouraged to be involved as Task participants, as contributors to Workshops or Seminars, as Consultants, or as technical reviewers of Task outputs to ensure that the orientation and activities of the Task match or meet their requirements.


An electronic newsletter is generally published twice a year. The next issue is due to be published in June 2016. For notification of posting on the website please contact Irene Watkinson.


The Task is led by Alan Zacher of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA. 


To access the main IEA Bioenergy website, click here.


To view the full list of Task 34 members and their contact details, please click here.


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