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Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686


www.fuelfirst.com

Biodegradability of biomass pyrolysis oils: Comparison to


conventional petroleum fuels and alternatives fuels in current use
a,*
Joël Blin , Ghislaine Volle a, Philippe Girard a, Tony Bridgwater b, Dietrich Meier c

a
CIRAD Forestry Department, International Research Centre for Agricultural and Development, UPR Biomass Energy,
TA 10/16, 73, Avenue J.-F. Breton, 34398 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France
b
Aston University, Aston Triangle, B4 7ET, Birmingham, United Kingdom
c
BFH-Institute for Wood Chemistry, Leuschnerstrasse 91, D-21031 Hamburg, Germany

Received 29 November 2006; received in revised form 19 March 2007; accepted 20 March 2007
Available online 18 April 2007

Abstract

Concern with environmental issues such as global climate change has stimulated research into the development of more environmen-
tally friendly technologies and energy sources. One critical area of our economy is liquid fuels. Fast pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass
for liquids production is of particular concern, as it is one of the most interesting ways to produce renewable liquid fuel for transport and
heat and power production.
The aerobic biodegradability of various pyrolysis oils from different origins and of a EN 590 diesel sample was examined using the
Modified Sturm (OECD 301B). The results demonstrate that all fast pyrolysis oils assessed are biodegradable with similar shaped curves
with 41–50% biodegradation after 28 days, whereas the diesel sample reached only 24% biodegradation. Since pyrolysis oils achieved
biodegradability over 20% these are classified as inherently biodegradable. Modelling of biodegradation processes was successfully per-
formed with a first-order chemical reaction.
The biodegradability results obtained for biomass pyrolysis oils are compared to those of conventional and alternative fuels.
 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Biodegradation; Fast pyrolysis oil; Biofuel; Biomass

1. Introduction corresponds to the thermal conversion occurring in the


absence of oxygen. Biomass pyrolysis results in the produc-
1.1. Fast pyrolysis tion of three products: gas, pyrolysis oil and charcoal [2,3].
The relative proportions of these products depend very
A wide variety of technologies are available to produce much on the pyrolysis method, the characteristics of the
energy from biomass. Biomass is the only renewable biomass and the reaction parameters. Temperature, heat-
resource that can be directly converted into liquid fuel, thus ing rate and vapour residence time can be adjusted to
providing a competitively priced fuel for transport, heat favour charcoal or bio-oil productions [4].
and power production. Fast pyrolysis of biomass for liq- Conventional carbonization or slow pyrolysis has slow
uids production is of particular interest, as it is the only heating rates and long vapour residence time and is used
thermal process that directly produces useable liquid prod- to maximise charcoal yields at around 35–40%, together
uct from lignocellulosic biomass [1]. Literally, pyrolysis with around 30% liquid. In fast pyrolysis processes, very
high heating rate and short hot vapour residence time are
used to maximise the liquid product at around 75 wt% on
*
Corresponding author. Fax: +33 4 67 61 65 15. dry feed when the biomass is wood [5]. In both cases, the
E-mail address: joel.blin@cirad.fr (J. Blin). thermo-decomposition of the biomass generates vapours

0016-2361/$ - see front matter  2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2007.03.033
2680 J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686

and aerosols [6,7]. After cooling, these condense to give a biodegradability of pyrolysis oils in case of accidental dis-
dark brown mobile liquid composed of a very complex charges. Results and conclusions are very interesting, but
mixture of oxygenated hydrocarbons with some water as they used a non-standardized experimental method data
[8–10]. While fast pyrolysis oils are single phase, slow cannot be considered for the elaboration of MSDS.
pyrolysis liquids are composed of two phase: an organic In order to assess bio-oil biodegradability and to be able
fraction and an aqueous fraction. to set up recommendations and MSDS, the biodegradabil-
Fast pyrolysis oil, commonly named bio-oil, has a heat- ity of nine different fast pyrolysis bio-oils and one slow
ing value about half that of conventional fuel oil [11]. It can pyrolysis oil was measured using the Modified Sturm test
substitute for fuel oil or diesel in many heat and power 301B [20,21] which is the conventional test used to assess
applications [11–13]. Almost any form of biomass can be oil biodegradation [22–24]. The biodegradability results
considered for fast pyrolysis from agricultural wastes and obtained are discussed and compared with those of conven-
residues to annual and perennial energy crops. tional petroleum fuels and alternatives fuels in current use.

1.2. Health and safety 2. Materials and methods

The scale up of biomass pyrolysis technology and the 2.1. Pyrolysis oils
opportunity liquid may offers as concentrated bioenergy
carrier for large scale application, would expose a large Lignocellulosic biomass is a complex mixture of macro-
numbers of persons to potentials hazards. Diebold [14] molecules or polymers (hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin) and
published the most extensive review on the toxicity of bio- minor amounts of other organics which each pyrolyse or
mass pyrolysis liquids. This paper reported on a significant degrade at different temperatures and by different mecha-
number of works done on hazards of acute and long term nisms and pathways [3,25,26]. The rate and extent of
exposure to ‘‘wood smoke and pyrolysis vapour’’ but none decomposition of each of these components depends on
on their eco-toxicity. However, with the increasing interest the process parameters (reactor temperature, biomass heat-
in bio-oil, the health and safety aspects are of utmost ing rate and pressure) [5].
importance, including determination of their environmen- Pyrolysis has received considerable creativity and inno-
tal impacts in the event of inadvertent problems or leaks vation in design reactor systems that provide the essential
during transport, storage or processing. As biodegradation ingredients of high heating rates, moderate reaction tem-
is the dominant pathway for the environmental transfor- peratures and short hot vapour product residence times
mation of most chemicals, biodegradability properties of for liquids. As a result, a large variety of reactor configura-
bio-oils should be known to assess the impact of accidental tions have been developed and are used by bio-oil produc-
release [15,16]. Information on the kinetics of the degrada- ers [5,27,28].
tion of a chemical substance in the environment is essential Bio-oils collected to carry out this study were provided
for proper risk assessment and of primary importance to by companies and research laboratories. These were
apprehend the long-term effects of this substance. More- selected in order to study the influence of the process
over such data can also provide information on the product parameters, such as the reaction temperature and the feed-
behaviour for measures to adopt in case of large quantities stock, on the biodegradability of the oil. The production
of spillage, in order to minimise adverse effect on human parameters and characteristics of these oils are given in
health or ecosystem. Table 1.
Nine fast pyrolysis oils (FPO) were produced by the
1.3. Biodegradability of bio-oil three main processes of fast pyrolysis: fluidised bed, circu-
lating fluidised bed and ablative reactors. The characteris-
To date, only one study on bio-oil biodegradation has tics of these reactors are described by Bridgwater et al.
been published by Piskorz and Radlein [17]. They used a [27,28].
non-standardized experimental method with a respirometer Biodegradation of slow pyrolysis oil (SPO) was also
to monitor the bio-oil biochemical oxygen demand in a studied. This sample, which was produced in a fixed bed
closed reactor over 5 days. The protocol they used, which reactor, was biphasic with 77 wt% aqueous fraction and
was developed for biochemical studies in activated sludge 23 wt% organic fraction. In a first step the biodegradability
process, is similar to the 5-days biochemical oxygen of the whole oil was studied. It was introduced into the
demand (BOD5) norm [18] but their methods were further inoculated medium as an emulsion after being vigorously
developed in order to compare biodegradation kinetics of stirred. In a second step, biodegradation of both the
wastes in water rather than to measure the ultimate biode- organic (SPO-Org) and aqueous (SPO-Aq) fractions were
gradability in controlled and standardized conditions [19]. determined separately after decantation. The water content
In their study, Piskorz and all found that bio-oils are bio- of all samples was measured using the standard test method
degradable, with biodegradation rates and patterns similar ASTM D1744 by Karl Fisher titration; and elemental
to, but substantially higher than those for diesel fuel. The CHN composition was determined using ASTM D5291-
aim of Piskorz and all was to assess the ultimate aerobic 92. The results of these measurements are presented in
J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686 2681

Table 1
Production parameters and characteristics of pyrolysis oils
Bio-oils Production parameters Chemical characteristics (on wet basis)
Reactor Reactor T C Biomass Water (% m/m) %C %H %N % Oa
FPO-1 Fluid bed 500 Beech 26.80 41.67 7.87 0.00 50.46
FPO-2 500 Miscanthus 24.60 43.13 8.14 0.22 48.51
FPO-3 500 Spruce 22.40 43.66 7.67 0.00 48.67
FPO-4 425 Spruce 26.70 39.37 7.64 0.37 52.62
FPO-5 600 Spruce 20.30 45.10 7.35 0.38 47.17
FPO-6 CFB 500 Beech 28.50 39.45 7.96 0.01 52.58
FPO-7 500 Forest residue 29.10 39.44 8.01 0.30 52.25
FPO-8 Ablative 480 Pine 24.90 41.27 7.79 0.01 50.93
FPO-9 560 Pine 37.00 32.64 8.30 0.35 58.71
SPO Fixed bed 500 Spruce 33.36 25.56 10.8 0.3 63.34
SPO-Org 28.60 62.54 7.59 0.00 29.87
SPO-Aq 67.8 14.88 11.46 0.4 73.26
CFB: circulating fluidised bed, FPO: fast pyrolysis oil, SPO: slow pyrolysis oil, Org: organic fraction, Aq: aqueous fraction.
a
By difference.

Table 1. The water contents varied between 20 and 37 wt% where Bmaterial is the biodegradation of the tested material,
which is due to the disparity in the moisture content of the (CO2)material is the amount of CO2 measured in the test ves-
feedstocks used and the different technologies. sel containing the material and (CO2)blank in blank control.
As pyrolysis oils can be used as a renewable energy ThCO2 represents the amount of carbon dioxide formed
source to substitute for conventional fossil fuel in static by complete oxidation of the organic carbon. If mmaterial is
engine application, the aerobic biodegradation of a EN the amount of the sample introduced in the tests vessel, C%
590 diesel fuel was also studied. The diesel sample is the percentage of carbon in the sample, ThCO2 is calcu-
contained 86.5 wt% carbon, 13.5 wt% hydrogen, and lated according to Eq. (2) [33].
0.005 wt% nitrogen. 44
ThCO2 ¼ mmaterial  C%  : ð2Þ
12
2.2. Biodegradability test
Because of the nature of the biodegradation process and of
The method used to evaluate the aerobic biodegradabil- the bacterial populations used as inoculum, all tests were
ity of pyrolysis oil was the OECD 301B Modified Sturm duplicated.
Test for ready biodegradability [21,23]. This 28-day ulti- To test one oil, five flasks were necessary: two flasks con-
mate aerobic biodegradation test was established for poorly taining the oil to be tested in duplicate, two ‘‘blank’’ flasks
water-soluble compounds and it is the commonly test to characterize the inoculum respiration and one reference
selected to assess the biodegradation of petroleum products flask containing sodium acetate to act as a control. The
[22,29,30]. The principle of the method involves addition of experimental set-up consisted of 11 flasks to test four differ-
a test material to a chemically defined liquid medium inoc- ent oils in parallel.
ulated with wastewater micro organisms and aerated at The inoculum source used for tests was activated sludge
20–25 C. The OECD 301B Modified Sturm Test is the freshly collected from the aeration tank of the sewage treat-
more common test used to assess oil biodegradation ment plant in St Gely du Fesc close to Montpellier
[22,24,31,32]. (France). This treatment plant receives predominantly
The biodegradation is quantified by trapping CO2 freshly collected domestic sewage and the activated sludge
formed in the vessel during biodegradation. Carbon diox- has a concentration of 3.2 g l1 of suspended solids as rec-
ide-free air is passed through the test solution, and the car- ommended in the OECD guideline [21,34]. Fresh activated
bon dioxide released from bio-oxidation of the test material, sludge was collected one day prior to test initiation, and
is reacted quantitatively in a solution of barium hydroxide. homogenised in a blender for 30 min by stirring at medium
The biodegradation (B) is calculated and expressed as a speed. After the sample settled the homogenized mass was
percentage of the measured carbon dioxide, after subtract- decanted, avoiding solids losses. A 10 ml l1 activated
ing blank values, compared to the theoretical carbon diox- sludge material was added to the test medium.
ide (ThCO2) that would be generated if the tested material Sodium acetate was used as the reference compound to
were completely mineralized: check the procedure. It was tested in parallel in an appro-
priate vessel at the same time as the other test runs. A test is
ðCO2 Þmaterial  ðCO2 Þblank considered valid if the percentage of degradation of the ref-
Bmaterial ¼ ; ð1Þ
ThCO2 erence compound reached 60% biodegradation by day 14.
2682 J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686

To estimate the biodegradability, the amount of oil


50
introduced into the flasks has to be precisely known, in
order to have around 15 mg l1 of dissolved organic com-
pounds (DOC) in the flask. Therefore, based on the oils’ 40

biodegradation rate [%]


elemental analysis, all tests were performed by introducing
the equivalent of 45 mg of carbon equivalent in the liquid
30
in 3 l of inoculum/mineral solution.
As pyrolysis oils are partially insoluble in water and
sticky, the sample to be introduced into the mineral med- 20
ium cannot be precisely weighted without losses. As recom-
mended by Morisier et al. [35] for this kind of substance, a
solid carrier was used. Pyrolysis oils were deposited and 10
weighed on non-biodegradable glass filters, before intro-
duction in the mineral medium. After 2 or 3 days stirring
0
in the inoculated medium, the filter breaks up into the ori- 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
ginal filament form and the entire oil sample is then
time [d]
released into the solution.
The CO2 emitted from the 11 flasks was periodically and Fig. 1. Biodegradation curves of fast pyrolysis oils: (m) FPO-1; (d) FPO-
individually measured during the 28 days period. On the 2; (j) FPO-3; () FPO-4; (n) FPO-5; (s) FPO-6; (h) FPO-7; (e) FPO-8;
28th day, 1 ml of concentrated hydrochloric acid was (·) FPO-9.
added to each vessel to drive off any remaining carbon
dioxide present in the test suspensions. On day 29, the last
measurement of carbon dioxide production was taken. 90

80
2.3. Results
70
biodegradation rate [%]

All oils were tested in duplicate as reported above except


60
SPO which was tested in four replicates because of its inho-
mogeneity. The sodium acetate used as the control, 50
degraded for all runs to approximately 69% (69.2%;
40
70.1%; 69.2%; 68.6%) by day 14, which validated the tests
and confirmed the viability of the microbial inoculums. The 30
reproducibility of the measurements is satisfactory since
the standard deviation between the four references is 7% 20

of the biodegradation. The average across the two repli- 10


cates cumulative biodegradation measured for each sample
as a function of time are plotted in Figs. 1 and 2. 0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
As can be seen, all the pyrolysis oils tested were biode-
gradable as CO2 release was observed in every flask. As time [d]
shown on Fig. 1, all the fast pyrolysis oils tested have very Fig. 2. Biodegradation curves of slow pyrolysis oil, references and diesel:
similar biodegradation rates, with similar shaped curves (·) sodium acetate; (d) SPO-Aq; () SPO; (j) SPO-Org; (n) diesel.
and biodegradation between 41% and 50% after 28 days.
Surprisingly, despite fast pyrolysis oils being produced
phase reached 74% whereas the organic phase is only min-
using different conversion technologies and feedstocks,
eralized to 31%.
and consequently different chemical compositions [36],
Taking account of the relative proportions of the
these all have very similar biodegradation behaviour. Bio-
organic and aqueous fractions (respectively 23 wt% and
degradation curves show high degradation rates during
77 wt%), the biodegradability of SPO is equal to the sum
the first eight days followed by a second phase where the
of the biodegradabilities of the two phases as reported in
production of CO2 is reduced. Tests were stopped after
Eq. (3).
28 days as recommended in the OECD guideline, but it is
clear that biodegradation was not completed as the curves 77  BðSPO-AqÞ þ 23  BðSPO-OrgaÞ
had not reached a plateau. It would be interesting to con- BðSPOÞ ¼ : ð3Þ
100
tinue the tests for a longer period.
The slow pyrolysis sample achieves 62% biodegradation The difference between the biodegradability rates of fast
and is more easily mineralized by the bacteria than fast and slow pyrolysis oils can be explained by the different
pyrolysis oils (Fig. 2). The two slow pyrolysis oil fractions chemical nature of the two kinds of oil. Even if the same
have very different biodegradability: the SPO aqueous chemical families of compounds are present in both oils,
J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686 2683

theirs concentrations are significantly different. In slow


60
pyrolysis processes, the heating rate and flow of gas pro-
duced are low, so that the residence times of pyrolysis va-
pours in the reactor are high. This encourages secondary 50

biodegradation rate [%]


reactions (cracking and recombination) with production
of both light functionalised compounds and more stable 40
heavy organic compounds. Light functionalised com-
pounds are predominantly soluble in water whereas heavy 30
organic compounds are not, which results in phase
separation. 20
In the fast pyrolysis process, the residence times of
vapours are very short, minimising secondary reactions 10
[5]. Fast pyrolysis oils are mainly composed of functional-
ised organic compounds close to monomers of cellulose
0
and hemicelluloses together with cracked lignin polymers 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
known as pyrolytic lignin. time [d]
It has been established that high molecular weight, low
Fig. 3. Biodegradability of (n) FPO-2 and (s) SPO. Experimental values
water solubility and the presence of several aromatic rings
(points) and biodegradation curves are modelled following Eq. (3).
increases resistance to biodegradation [37,38]. This explains
the different biodegradation of the materials studied. It has
been found that bacteria more easily degrade light highly Table 2
functionalised compounds of SPO-Aq, than the organic Measured biodegradation and kinetics constants of first-order equation
describing biodegradation of pyrolysis oils and diesel
partially water soluble constituents of FPO and the more
stable heavy organic compounds of SPO-Org. Oils Measured Calculated
All pyrolysis oils, both slow and fast, are more biode- Bday 29 (%) Bmax (%) k (day1) tlag (days) T1/2 (days)
gradable than the Diesel sample (24%), which is mainly FPO-1 45.90 46.15 0.14 0.91 5.06
composed of branched chain alkanes, cycloalkanes, aro- FPO-2 44.25 43.86 0.14 1.09 5.00
matic hydrocarbons and mixed aromatic cycloalkanes. FPO-3 42.77 42.23 0.15 0.94 4.66
FPO-4 49.72 49.27 0.15 1.16 4.59
FPO-5 40.78 40.33 0.14 1.20 4.88
2.4. Modelling degradation curves FPO-6 44.64 44.75 0.15 1.03 4.69
FPO-7 43.29 43.34 0.15 1.47 4.60
In order to better characterize and quantify the ultimate FPO-8 50.11 51.13 0.13 1.04 5.17
FPO-9 49.50 49.14 0.17 1.66 4.02
aerobic degradation of pyrolysis oils, the experimental
SPO 62.25 62.08 0.18 0.74 3.87
cumulative curves were simulated with a first-order kinetics SPO-Org 30.63 30.73 0.13 1.13 5.20
equation (4) [39–41]. Carbon dioxide productions were SPO-Aq 74.02 73.93 0.16 1.53 4.25
regression-analysed by the least squares method, minimisa- Diesel 24.33 26.61 0.10 4.03 7.22
tion of target function applying the Solver subprogram of Bday 29: percentage biodegradation measured after 29 days, Bmax: calcu-
Microsoft Excel 2002 SP3 [42] lated maximum percentage biodegradation, k: rate constant (day1), tlag:
 lag phase of biodegradation (day), T1/2: half-life time of biodegradation
BCO2 ¼ Bmax 1  ekðttlag Þ ; ð4Þ (day).

where BCO2 is the percentage biodegradation at time t


(days), Bmax is the maximum percentage biodegradation, observed. This time lag corresponds to the acclimatization
k is the rate constant (day1) and tlag is the lag phase of period for the bacteria fauna to develop competent degra-
biodegradation (day). der for effective degradation [24,31,43,44]. The fast biolog-
The half-life time of CO2 production T1/2 is obtained by ical response factors towards pyrolysis oils can be
explained by the solubility of functionalised compounds
ln 2
T 1=2 ðdaysÞ ¼ tlag : ð5Þ in the aqueous medium, which are quickly degraded by
k bacteria from conventional inoculum sources.
Fig. 3 shows that biodegradation of pyrolysis oils can be Low lag phases for pyrolysis oil biodegradation, also
very well described by a first-order kinetic equation. The show that despite use of a glass filter as solid carrier, there
kinetics parameters of the first-order models are numeri- were no mass transfer limitations in the inoculated solu-
cally presented in Table 2. tion. Oils were rapidly dispersed in the bacteria medium
The curves in Fig. 1, and the calculated kinetics data in [40]. The CO2 produced was also rapidly released from
Table 2 show very low lag phases for all pyrolysis oils flasks and was not dissolved in the aqueous solution due
(tlag  1 day). This corresponds to the inoculation period to the acidity of oils [43]. This was confirmed on day 29
at the beginning of the tests until biodegradation starts when the addition of 1 ml of the acid solution released a
[21]. For the Diesel sample a lag phase of 3–4 days was large amount of dissolved CO2 from only the reference
2684 J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686

and diesel samples (which are not acidic) but not for the 28 day laboratory studies, due to its higher proportion of
bio-oil samples. high molecular weight aromatics [46,47]. Diesel and gaso-
To be classified as readily biodegradable as in the line, which are light crude oil derived fuels, are more biode-
OECD protocol, a compound must achieve at least 60% gradable and achieve up to 24–36% and 28% respectively.
of the ThCO2 within 28 days, and should reach that within Zhang et al. [44] used the test method EPA 560/6-82-003
10 days of achieving the first 10% of the ThCO2. Based on which is equivalent to the OECD 301B [45].
this definition, only the aqueous fraction of the SPO can be Morgan et al. [30] compared the biodegradability of a
classified as readily biodegradable. The slow pyrolysis sam- synthetic GTL diesel (gas-to-liquids) obtained by Fischer
ple can be classified as readily biodegradable but without Tropsch conversion of natural gas, and a crude oil derived
meeting the 10-day window criteria [23,24,34] and fast diesel fuel. Using the OECD 301B test the synthetic GTL
pyrolysis oils can be classified as inherently biodegradable diesel from Sasol reached 60% biodegradation in around
[45] since these oils achieved biodegradability over 20% 28 days whereas the crude oil derived diesel only degraded
based upon CO2 evolution within the 28 days. by 34%. The relatively good biodegradability of the syn-
thetic diesel is due to the low aromatic content in the
GTL fuel.
3. Comparison of the biodegradability of pyrolysis oils
Vegetables oils and their derived methyl esters have been
to conventional petroleum fuels and alternatives fuels
used as a diesel fuel substitute or additive for many years
in current use
and previous work has demonstrated that these are rapidly
degraded to reach biodegradation of between 76% and 90%
As pyrolysis oils can be used as a renewable energy
[44,48,49].
source to substitute conventional fossil fuels in burner or
In their studies Zhang et al. [44] have shown that vege-
heavy fuel in combustion engines, it is worthwhile to com-
tables oils are slightly less degraded than their modified
pare their biodegradation to those of petroleum products
methyl ester. This has been attributed to the higher viscos-
and others biofuels (Table 3).
ity of the vegetable oils and their limited solubility, which
As confirmed by the American Petroleum Institute [45]
limit their biodegradability.
very little data is available on the behaviour of fossil fuel
The results in Table 3 show that biodegradation of fast
oils in standard tests for biodegradability. Much of what
and slow pyrolysis oils is more effective and faster than that
is known is based on information gained from testing
of fossil fuel but not as good as that of vegetable oils.
hydrocarbon mixtures of other petroleum products.
Oil institutes generally agree that petroleum hydrocar-
The only values available in the literature are presented
bon biodegradability is governed by the molecular struc-
in Table 3. Heavy fuel oils are blended products based on
ture of individual hydrocarbons [50]. As explained before,
the residues from various refinery distillation and cracking
the simpler molecules are most readily degraded, while
processes. This fuel has low biodegradation of 11%, in
increased molecular weight, branching compounds and
Table 3
aromatic structures tend to decrease the biodegradation
Biodegradability data of fossils and bio fuels rate and sometimes the extent of biodegradation of hydro-
Fuels products Degradation References
carbons of the same carbon number [16]. Linear aliphatic
(28 days) alkanes of Fischer–Tropsch diesel and linear fatty acid in
Fossil fuels
vegetables oils or oil methyl ester are quite extensively bio-
Gas oil Commercial 24–36% Present study degraded, while branching and aromatic compounds of
[22,30,37,44,49] fossil fuels are more stable and less biodegradable.
Fischer Tropsch 60% [30] For a biochemical process to occur rapidly, appropriate
Gasoline 91 octane 28% [37] enzymes must be available [15]. Vegetable oil consists of
Heavy Bunker C oil 11% [46,47]
pure fatty acids; the enzymes responsible for their break-
fuel down exist naturally. Fatty acids are hydrocarbon chain
in ester form, with oxygen atoms attached which makes
Bio fuel them very biologically active. The enzymes responsible
Pyrolysis Fast pyrolysis oils 41–50% Present study for the dehydrogenation/oxidation reactions that occur in
oils
the process of degradation, recognize oxygen atoms and
Vegetable Refined rapeseed 83% [49] attack them immediately [44]. Moreover in many fossil
oils oil 78% [44] fuels the contents of heavy metals decreases microbial
Refined soybean 76% [44]
oil activities and thus decreases their biodegradability, which
is not the case for biofuel [51].
Methyl Rapeseed oil 87% [49]
esters methyl ester 88% [44]
Sunflower oil 90% [44] 4. Conclusions
methyl ester
Soybean oil methyl 85.4% [49] The study of the biodegradability of biomass pyrolysis
ester oils, show that this biofuel is biodegradable. According
J. Blin et al. / Fuel 86 (2007) 2679–2686 2685

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