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Pyrolysis

  • By: Sarah Boslaugh
  • In: Green Technology: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney
  • Subject:Environmental Sciences (general), Environmental Technology, Policy & Management

Pyrolysis is a type of thermolysis or chemical decomposition of organic (carbon-based) materials through the application of heat in the absence or near-absence of oxygen. Pyrolysis is thus distinct from burning, which can only take place if sufficient oxygen is present. The rate of pyrolysis increases with temperature, and in industrial applications the temperatures used are often 800 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, while in small operations the temperature may be much lower. Two well-known products created by pyrolysis are charcoal, created by heating wood in an oxygen-poor environment, and coke (which is used as an industrial fuel as well as for heat shielding), created by heating coal in an airless furnace. Pyrolysis has numerous applications of interest to green technology; for instance, as a method ...

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