Formation of PCDDs and PCDFs in the torrefaction of biomass with different chemical composition

Qiuju Gao, Mar Edo, Sylvia H. Larsson, Elena Collina, Magnus Rudolfsson, Marta Gallina, Ibukun Oluwoye, Mohammednoor Altarawneh, Bogdan Z. Dlugogorski, Stina Jansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Torrefaction is a thermal pre-treatment technology used to refine biomass, mainly for energy production purposes. However, there is currently a lack of information on the potential formation of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) in the torrefaction process. In this study, torrefaction was conducted using five different types of feedstock: stemwood, bark, wood from a discarded telephone pole, cassava stems and particle board. The feedstock as well as the torrefied biomass (chars) and the volatiles (non-condensable and condensable) generated during torrefaction were analyzed for PCDDs and PCDFs. PCDD concentrations in the torrefaction products were about 2–5 fold of those in the feedstocks. Torrefaction of particle board resulted in extensive formation of PCDDs (7200 ng kg−1) compared to the other four feedstocks (13–27 ng kg−1). Examination of the homologue profiles suggested that the observed PCDDs in the torrefaction products partly originated from new formation and partly physical transformation from volatilization and re-condensation of PCDDs present in the feedstock. Dechlorination of highly chlorinated compounds (HpCDD and OCDD) in the feedstock to form less chlorinated PCDDs was also observed. Compared to PCDDs, the net formation of PCDFs in the torrefaction process was low, except for the telephone pole sample, for which a dramatic increase (44-fold) of PCDFs was observed. PCDDs and PCDFs were mainly retained in the chars, accounting for 76–96% and 39–74% of the total concentration, respectively. It was also found that the highly chlorinated congeners tended to be retained in the chars, whereas the less chlorinated ones were predominantly volatilized into the gas phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Lignocellulosic biomass
  • Persistent organic pollutant
  • Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin
  • Polychlorinated dibenzofuran
  • Thermochemical conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Fuel Technology


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