Rapid Analysis of Feedstock Ash Composition Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)

International Congress on Energy (ICE)
AIChE Annual Meeting
October 30, 2012 - 2:10pm-2:30pm
Inorganic compounds are known to be problematic in the thermochemical conversion of biomass to syngas and ultimately hydrocarbon fuels. The elements Si, K, Ca, Na, S, P, Cl, Mg, Fe and Al are particularly problematic and are known to influence reaction pathways, contribute to fouling and corrosion, poison catalysts, and impact waste streams. Substantial quantities of inorganic species can be entrained in the bark of trees during harvest operations. Herbaceous feedstocks often have even greater quantities inorganic constituents, which can account for as much as one-fifth of the total dry matter.

Current methodologies to measure the concentrations of these elements, such as inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry/mass spectrometry (ICP-OES/MS) are expensive in time and reagents. This study demonstrates that a new methodology employing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) can rapidly and accurately analyze the inorganic constituents in a wide range of biomass materials, including both woody and herbaceous examples. This technique requires little or no sample preparation, does not consume any reagents, and the analytical data is available immediately. In addition to comparing LIBS data with results from ICP-OES methods, this work also includes discussions of sample preparation techniques, calibration curves for interpreting LIBS spectra, minimum detection limits, and the use of internal standards and standard reference materials.

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