(96b) Flow Characterization of Compressed Woody Biomass
Global interest for using terrestrial biomass as an energy source has been increasing recently due to potentially significant socio-economic and environmental benefits relative to fossil energy. Thermochemical biomass processes converting biomass to fuels are relatively well developed, e.g. for direct combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis. However, critical problems often arise when attempting to feed biomass into commercial-scale reactors continuously and without interruption. Biomass particles, whether derived from woody or agricultural feedstock, vary greatly in size, shape, density, and moisture content. High cohesiveness, low bulk density, and poor material flow characteristics often prevent continuous feeding due to bridging, rat-hole formation, blockage, and seal failures. Among all different types of feeders utilized to feed biomass into reactors, screw feeding has received significant attention in recent years. Screw feeders are fuel-specific and require careful design to be reliable, efficient, and economical, especially for reactors operating at elevated pressures. In order to mimic the flow properties of compressed biomass inside a compression-screw feeder, rheological properties of three types of compressed lignocellulosic biomass were investigated using a co-rotating twin screw microcompounder. Experiments were conducted to find the impact of moisture content, particle size and type, and screw speed on rheological properties of forest residual particles as well as sawdust. Increasing moisture from 10 to 50% reduced the apparent viscosity of the compressed biomass. Also, higher screw speeds (10 to 90 rpm) led to a lower relative viscosity. At elevated screw speeds, significant temperature differences were measured between the initial and final states, which should be accounted for in equipment design and operation.