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Study Finds Mixing Raw Materials is Key to Improving Biomass Fuel Pellets

A new study discovers that the correct mix of raw materials is essential to enhance biomass fuel pellets.

Study Finds Mixing Raw Materials is Key to Improving Biomass Fuel Pellets.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/ tchara

As the world is coming to terms with the requirement to quit using fossil fuels, renewable alternatives have become highly essential. One such alternative is known to be the bioenergy produced by burning biomass. A new study now reports how to best improve biomass fuel production: it is more concerned with the mixing of materials.

Biomass is nothing but any type of renewable biological material that could be burned as fuel, although it is generally of a plant origin, such as straw or wood chips.

Biomass energy is one of the most efficient renewable energy sources,” stated author Cui Xuyang, who works together with Yang Junhong at the Key Laboratory of Efficient Utilization of Low and Medium Grade Energy at Tianjin University in China. In general, biomass fuel comes in the form of pellets, developed under temperature and pressure, and the quality of the pellets can be highly impacted by additives.

For instance, mixing woody biomass or straw with sugars like starch or cellulose enhances the durability and strength of the finished pellets. The same could be accomplished by merging woody biomass with production waste such as sludge, which is readily available and is a sugar-containing material that can also help decrease the economic and environmental costs.

It is vital to keep costs and production energy low.

The manufacture of high quality pellet fuels with low energy consumption is what we are after. Oil and sugar help reduce energy consumption in the preparation of biomass pellet fuel and improve the quality of the pellets.

Cui Xuyang, Study Author, Key Laboratory of Efficient Utilization of Low and Medium Grade Energy, Tianjin University

The pelletizing step solely adds up to 50% of the energy consumption required to convert the raw biomass into usable pellets. Oily crops like castor and rapeseed have the ability to reduce the energy consumption of wood chip pellets since the oil decreases friction at the time of processing.

During processing, it is also essential to consider the components of the primary biomass. For instance, as wood is rich in an organic polymer known as lignin, it needs a higher temperature to be converted into pellets. Meanwhile, heating supports the bonding of the raw materials, thereby enhancing the pellet strength.

In the same way, microalgae biomass does not have adequate levels of cellulose, lignin, etc., but the lipids in it can decrease the energy consumption of the pelletizing process. This balancing act is one more reason why mixing materials tend to be useful.

It is obvious that mixing different raw materials for co-pelletizing is a promising way to upgrade biomass pellets. In the future, co-combustion and co-gasification of different feedstocks should also be taken into account.

Cui Xuyang, Study Author, Key Laboratory of Efficient Utilization of Low and Medium Grade Energy, Tianjin University

A lot has to go into creating a world powered wholly by renewable energy. A part of that work will be considered as a process of constantly fine-tuning, like determining the ideal biomass mix. However, if it implies that one can move completely away from fossil fuels, it will be more than useful.

As mankinds interest in biomass energy grows, the question of how to make better use of it is one that needs to be answered.

Cui Xuyang, Study Author, Key Laboratory of Efficient Utilization of Low and Medium Grade Energy, Tianjin University

Source: https://sciencepod.net/

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