To investigate the efficacy of torrefaction in a vacuum environment, wood sawdust was torrefied at various temperatures (200–300 °C) in different atmospheres (nitrogen and vacuum) with different residence times (30 and 60 min). It was found that the amount of biochar reduced at the same rate—regardless of atmosphere type—throughout the torrefaction process. In terms of energy density, the vacuum system produced biochar with better higher heating value (HHV, MJ/kg) than the nitrogen system below 250 °C. This was the case because the moisture and the high volatility compounds such as aldehydes diffused more easily in a vacuum. Over 250 °C, however, a greater amount of low volatility compounds evaded from the vacuum system, resulting in lower higher heating value in the biochar. Despite the mixed results with the solid products, the vacuum system increased the higher heating value of its liquid products more significantly than did the nitrogen system regardless of torrefaction temperature. It was found that 23% of the total energy output came from the liquid products in the vacuum system; the corresponding ratio was 19% in the nitrogen system. With liquid products contributing to a larger share of the total energy output, the vacuum system outperformed the nitrogen system in terms of energy density.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited