Progress in biomass torrefaction: Principles, applications and challenges

Wei Hsin Chen, Bo Jhih Lin, Yu Ying Lin, Yen Shih Chu, Aristotle T. Ubando, Pau Loke Show, Hwai Chyuan Ong, Jo Shu Chang, Shih Hsin Ho, Alvin B. Culaba, Anélie Pétrissans, Mathieu Pétrissans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

476 Citations (Scopus)


The development of biofuels has been considered as an important countermeasure to abate anthropogenic CO2 emissions, suppress deteriorated atmospheric greenhouse effect, and mitigate global warming. To produce biofuels from biomass, thermochemical conversion processes are considered as the most efficient routes wherein torrefaction has the lowest global warming potential. Combustion is the easiest way to consume biomass, which can be burned alone or co-fired with coal to generate heat and power. However, solid biomass fuels are not commonly applied in the industry due to their characteristics of hygroscopic nature and high moisture content, low bulk density and calorific value, poor grindability, low compositional homogeneity, and lower resistance against biological degradation. In recently developing biomass conversion technologies, torrefaction has attracted much attention since it can effectively upgrade solid biomass and produce coal-like fuel. Torrefaction is categorized into dry and wet torrefaction; the former can further be split into non-oxidative and oxidative torrefaction. Despite numerous methods developed, non-oxidative torrefaction, normally termed torrefaction, has a higher potential for practical applications and commercialization when compared to other methods. To provide a comprehensive review of the progress in biomass torrefaction technologies, this study aims to perform an in-depth literature survey of torrefaction principles, processes, systems, and to identify a current trend in practical torrefaction development and environmental performance. Moreover, the encountered challenges and perspectives from torrefaction development are underlined. This state-of-the-art review is conducive to the production and applications of biochar for resource utilization and environmental sustainability. To date, several kinds of reactors have been developed, while there is still no obviously preferred one as they simultaneously have pros and cons. Integrating torrefaction with other processes such as co-firing, gasification, pyrolysis, and ironmaking, etc., makes it more efficient and economically feasible in contrast to using a single process. By virtue of capturing carbon dioxide during the growth stage of biomass, negative carbon emissions can even be achieved from torrefied biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100887
JournalProgress in Energy and Combustion Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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