Microwave pyrolysis overcomes the disadvantages of conventional pyrolysis methods by efficiently improving the quality of final pyrolysis products. Biochar, one of the end products of this process is considered an efficient vector for sequestering carbon to offset atmospheric carbon dioxide. The dielectric properties of the doping agents (i.e., char and graphite) were assessed over the range of 25°-400°C and used to develop a finite element model (FEM). This model served to couple electromagnetic heating, combustion, and heat and mass transfer phenomena and evaluated the advantages of selective heating of woody biomass during microwave pyrolysis. The dielectric properties of the doping agents were a function of temperature and decreased up to 100°C and thereafter remained constant. Regression analysis indicated that char would be a better doping substance than graphite. The simulation study found that doping helped to provide a more efficient heat transfer within the biomass compared to non-doped samples. Char doping yielded better heat transfer compared to graphite doping, as it resulted in optimal temperatures for maximization of biochar production. The model was then validated through experimental trials in a custom-built microwave pyrolysis unit which confirmed that char doping would be better suited for maximization of biochar.
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