To cite this article: Nyakuma, B. B. et al. (2016). Thermogravimetric and kinetic analyses of oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) pellets using the distributed activation energy model. J. Phys. Sci., 27(3), 67–83, http://dx.doi.org/10.21315/jps2016.27.3.5
The thermal degradation behaviour and decomposition kinetics of oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) pellets were investigated using a thermogravimetric analyser and the distributed activation energy model (DAEM). The OPEFB pellets were heated from 30°C to 1000°C at three different heating rates (5, 10, 20°C min–1) under a nitrogen atmosphere. The thermogravimetric-derivative thermogravimetric (TG-DTG) curves revealed that the non-isothermal decomposition of OPEFB pellets occurred in the following three stages: drying (35°C–175°C), active pyrolysis (200°C–370°C) and passive pyrolysis (370°C–1000°C), which resulted in the loss of moisture, volatile matter and char, respectively. The distributed activation energy model was subsequently used to determine the apparent activation energies (E) and pre-exponential factors (A), which ranged from 37.89 kJ mol–1 to 234.05 kJ mol–1 and from 2.05 × 102 min–1 to 3.54 × 1018 min–1, respectively, for conversions of α = 0.05–0.70 during the thermal degradation. The wide E and A distributions obtained from the kinetic analysis are attributed to the complex chemical reactions of pyrolysis. The kinetic analysis revealed the kinetic compensation effect (KCE), with the highest E and A values occurring in the range of α = 0.2–0.4. This result indicates that the active pyrolysis stage is the rate-determining step during the thermal decomposition of OPEFB pellets.