Algae Pyrolysis in Molten NaOH-Na2CO3 for Hydrogen Production

Jun Li, Kuo Zeng, Dian Zhong, Gilles Flamant, Ange Nzihou, Claire E. White, Haiping Yang, Hanping Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Biomass pyrolysis within the alkaline molten salt is attractive due to its ability to achieve high hydrogen yield under relatively mild conditions. However, poor contact between biomass, especially the biomass pellet, and hydroxide during the slow heating process, as well as low reaction temperatures, become key factors limiting the hydrogen production. To address these challenges, fast pyrolysis of the algae pellet in molten NaOH-Na2CO3 was conducted at 550, 650, and 750 °C. Algae were chosen as feedstock for their high photosynthetic efficiency and growth rate, and the concept of coupling molten salt with concentrated solar energy was proposed to address the issue of high energy consumption at high temperatures. At 750 °C, the pollutant gases containing Cl and S were completely removed, and the HCN removal rate reached 44.92%. During the continuous pyrolysis process, after a slight increase, the hydrogen yield remained stable at 71.48 mmol/g-algae and constituted 86.10% of the gas products, and a minimum theoretical hydrogen production efficiency of algae can reach 84.86%. Most importantly, the evolution of physicochemical properties of molten NaOH-Na2CO3 was revealed for the first time. Combined with the conversion characteristics of feedstock and gas products, this study provides practical guidance for large-scale application of molten salt including feedstock, operation parameters, and post-treatment process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6485-6493
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 25 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • NaOH−NaCO
  • algae
  • fast pyrolysis
  • hydrogen
  • solar energy


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