The knowledge of biomass char gasification kinetics has considerable importance in the design of advanced biomass gasifiers, some of which operate at high pressure. The char gasification kinetics themselves are influenced by char structure. In this study, the effects of pyrolysis pressure and heating rate on the char structure were investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis, digital cinematography, and surface area analysis. Char samples were prepared at pressures between 1 and 20 bar. temperatures ranging from 800 to 1000 degrees C, and heating rates between 20 and 500 degrees C/s. Our results indicate that pyrolysis conditions have a notable impact on the biomass char morphology. Pyrolysis pressure, in particular, was found to influence the size and the shape of char particles while high heating rates led to plastic deformation of particles (i.e. melting) resulting in smooth surfaces and large cavities. The global gasification reactivities of char samples were also determined using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) technique. Char reactivities were found to increase with increasing pyrolysis heating rates and decreasing pyrolysis pressure. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.