A set of ion-exchanged samples prepared from Loy Yang lignite was pyrolyzed in a wire-mesh reactor at elevated pressures from 1 to 36bar. The tar yields from the pyrolysis of H-form (acid-washed) sample at a fast heating rate of 1000°Cs-1 were drastically reduced by increasing pressure to 6bar and then remained unchanged with further increase in pressure to 36bar. This behavior of the tar yield was in sharp contrast to that from the raw lignite which showed a minimum with increasing pressure. The sensitivities of the tar yields to changes in the heating rate were also suppressed by increasing pressure. The tar yields from Ca-form and Na-form samples (prepared by ion-exchanging Ca and Na on the H-form sample, respectively) were not very sensitive to changes in the heating rate and pressure up to 11bar. At 20bar, the tar yields from the Na-from sample nearly doubled whereas from the Ca-form sample nearly halved compared to those respective values at 1bar. Although increasing pressure is thought to cause changes in the intra-particle mass transfer processes of volatile precursors, the rate of formation of volatile precursors tends to dictate the kind of mass transfer process responsible for the release of volatiles. Therefore, depending on the pyrolysis condition, bulk diffusion or forced flow would dominate the mass transfer processes for the release of volatiles. The introduction of cations is thought to result in irreversible changes in the lignite structure and not only control the process of formation but also the amount of volatile precursors and in turn alter the effects of pressure. Valence and catalytic activity of cations seem to play important roles in determining pyrolysis products distribution at elevated pressures.
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