Molecular Weight Distribution of Raw and Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis Oils: Comparison of Analytical Methodologies

Jack Ferrell, Anne Ware, Kellene Orton, Daniel Carpenter, Chris Deng, Sophia Kenrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Comprehensive analysis of the molecular weight distribution of raw and catalytic fast pyrolysis oils derived from biomass remains a key technical hurdle to understanding oil quality as it relates to downstream use and multiple methods may be necessary to accurately represent all components present. Here, we report the molecular weight distribution metrics of fast pyrolysis (FP) and catalytic fast pyrolysis (CFP) oils as determined by gel permeation chromatography (GPC) combined with UV-diode array (UV), differential refractive index (RI), and multi-angle laser light scattering (MALS) detection. The measured molar mass distributions revealed that FP oil consisted of a higher proportion of larger products relative to the low molecular weight products contained in the CFP oil. GPC/RI and UV methods showed FP oil to have higher weight-average molecular weight (Mw) and number-average molecular weight (Mn) than CFP oil based on elution time. However, GPC/MALS, determined the two oils to have similar overall molecular weight distribution metrics (Mw and Mn) and yielded values significantly higher than those determined by RI and UV detectors relative to external standards. Overall, the use of a multiple detection GPC method could enable a more accurate comparison and determination of true molecular weight metrics of bio-oils.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3789-3795
Number of pages7
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-75507


  • catalysis
  • gel permeation chromatography
  • light 12 scattering
  • molecular weight
  • pyrolysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular Weight Distribution of Raw and Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis Oils: Comparison of Analytical Methodologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this