The transformation on a compound or material into one or more substances by heat alone (without oxidation). Often called destructive distillation. Pyrolysis of biomass is the thermal degradation of the material in the absence of reacting gases, and occus pior to or simultaneously with gasification reactions in a gasifier. Pyrolysis products consist of gases, liquids, and char generally. The liquid fraction of pyrolisized biomass consists of an insoluble viscouse tar, and pyroligneous acids (acetic acid, methanol, acetone, esters, aldehydes, and furfural). The distribution of pyrolysis products varies depending on the feedstock composition, heating rate, temperature, and pressure.
  The thermal decomposition of biomass at high temperatures (greater than 400° F, or 200° C) in the absence of air. The end product of pyrolysis is a mixture of solids (char), liquids (oxygenated oils), and gases (methane, carbon monoxide, and carbondioxide) with proportions determined by operating temperature, pressure, oxygen content, and other conditions.
  U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Administration's Energy Glossary

Energy terms . 2014.

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