Design, Scaling and Cost Evaluations of Circulating Fluidized-Bed Systems for Biomass Pyrolysis

David Humbird, Abhijit Dutta, Harihar Subramaniam, Juan Mendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To generate updated and transparent capital cost estimates for biomass fast pyrolysis equipment, refinery fluidized catalytic cracking design and sizing principles are examined and extended to pyrolysis of woody biomass. Capital costs for the sized equipment are estimated with process-industry software. A one-dimensional flow simulation with pyrolysis kinetics is leveraged to validate the fluidization conditions and thermal energy balance. After successful sizing and a system cost estimate of $2.8 M (in 2016 US$) at the biorefinery scale of 1000 metric tons per day (MTD), these methods were exercised for even smaller equipment at the distributed pyrolysis scale with modifications to the process design constraints, and not directly comparable with the 1000 MTD case, arriving at capital cost estimates of $1.2 M for a 500 ton/day system and $0.9 M for a 200 ton/day system. It is noted that this work only estimates purchased equipment costs at the ±50% accuracy level; there are significant other custom factors applicable to each installation based on location, maturity, scale, complexities during installation, engineering and licensing costs, etc. that need to be added on to these estimates to derive investment costs.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)803-816
Number of pages14
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Society of Industrial Chemistry and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-81162


  • capital cost estimation
  • distributed pyrolysis
  • fast pyrolysis


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