Publication | Peer reviewed papers |

Screw reactors and rotary kilns in biochar production - A comparative review

Published september 2023

Citation: Moser K, Wopienka E, Pfeifer C, Schwarz M, Seldmayer I, Haslinger W. Screw reactors and rotary kilns in biochar production - A comparative review


One promising technology in the field of residue valorization is the pyrolytic conversion of biomass to biochar. There are a lot of proven technologies for this task, with many of them being quite distinctive. Biochar has a lot of valuable properties and it shows potential to be applicated in many different fields of industry as a green carbon resource. Thus, as the demand for its production rises, more and more people from different fields share interest in the same technologies and the demand for guidance in form of readily available information increases. Two prominent technologies rather similar in appearance are rotary kilns and screw reactors. Both technologies consist of a long, hollow cylinder and both technologies use some form of longitudinal rotation as a means to transport feedstock. In this review, both technologies are described and their biggest differences and similarities are discussed, all under the aspect of biochar production. In total, 21 unique rotary kilns and 58 unique auger reactors were identified. The paper addresses process specific aspects, like heat supply or residence time, but it also gives an overview on current research and general aspects like scale-up considerations. Differences between both technologies were found in all of these aspects, with some of the most pronounced being the bigger maximum capacities and the greater residence time distributions in rotary kiln pyrolysis. Both technologies are viable candidates for producing biochar on a commercial level, however, literature comparing the influence of the reactor type on biochar properties was very scarce. As a future outlook it is recommended to produce data that can be compared on a quantitative level, so a more accurate assessment of each technologies up- and downsides can be made.

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