Thermochemical conversion of biomass is a promising area for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. Targeted feedstock breeding for beneficial thermochemical properties will help make such processes viable. Three varieties of Oryza sativa (rice) were studied for differences in pyrolytic reactivity based on variation in lignocellulosic composition resulting from growth conditions: greenhouse-grown and field-grown rice. The relative ratios of hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, and ash have long been known to give rise to differences in thermochemical properties and performance. This study explored how variation of these components in different varieties of rice affected the pyrolysis rate measured using a thermogravimetric analyzer. In addition, properties of the char product such as mass yield and heating value were determined and correlated to initial composition. Peak pyrolysis rate was shown to occur at a reduced temperature with increasing hemicellulose to cellulose ratio. Other properties, such as char heating value showed little difference between samples despite lignocellulosic variability. Attempts at feedstock breeding for thermochemical conversion will have to consider the complex relationship between thermochemical properties and biomass components, as illustrated in this study.
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