(464h) Low Temperature Batch Conversion of Cellulosic Biomass

Nahata, M., University of Michigan
Fisher, G. B., University of Michigan
Schwank, J. W., University of Michigan

The project aims at developing small, affordable batch reactors that communities in developing countries can use to produce clean cooking gas from biomass. Our approach extracts clean combustible gases such as methane and hydrogen using low cost locally available catalytic ingredients such as sodium chloride and sodium carbonate. Compared to uncatalyzed biomass conversion, the onset of pyrolysis/gasification shifts to significantly lower temperatures in the presence of catalysts. One possible explanation is that the ions in solution migrate in between cellulosic strands/fibers and disrupt the interstrand hydrogen bonding. Upon drying, the salt nucleates and crystallizes in between the fibers, leading to mechanical strain and loss of structural integrity of the fibers. The recovered biochar can be used as a supplemental source of fuel, while the gas evolved can be collected inside the pressure vessel and connected to a gas burner. This allows the use of a wide range of biomass sources without forcing a community to radically change their way of living, thereby increasing the probability of acceptance of this new method.