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Research Papers: Energy From Biomass

A Comprehensive Investigation on the Effects of Biomass Particle Size in Cellulosic Biofuel Production

[+] Author and Article Information
Yang Yang

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing
Systems Engineering,
Kansas State University,
2061 Rathbone Hall,
1701B Platt Street,
Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: yang0218@k-state.edu

Meng Zhang

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing
Systems Engineering,
Kansas State University,
2075 Rathbone Hall,
1701B Platt Street,
Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: meng@k-state.edu

Donghai Wang

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering,
Kansas State University,
129 Seaton Hall,
920 N. 17th Street,
Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: dwang@k-state.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received July 10, 2017; final manuscript received February 28, 2018; published online April 9, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Gongnan Xie.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 140(4), 041804 (Apr 09, 2018) (7 pages) Paper No: JERT-17-1350; doi: 10.1115/1.4039602 History: Received July 10, 2017; Revised February 28, 2018

Biofuels derived from cellulosic biomass offer one of the best near- to midterm alternatives to petroleum-based liquid transportation fuels. Biofuel conversion is mainly done through a biochemical pathway in which size reduction, pelleting, pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and fermentation are main processes. Many studies reveal that biomass particle size dictates the energy consumption in the size reduction. Biomass particle size also influences sugar yield in enzymatic hydrolysis, and biofuel yield in fermentation is approximately proportional to the former enzymatic hydrolysis sugar yield. Most reported studies focus on the effects of biomass particle size on a specific process; as a result, in the current literature, there is no commonly accepted guidance to select the overall optimum particle size in order to minimize the energy consumption and maximize sugar yield. This study presents a comprehensive experimental investigation converting three types of biomass (big bluestem, wheat straw, and corn stover) into fermentable sugars and studies the effects of biomass particle size throughout the multistep bioconversion. Three particle sizes (4 mm, 2 mm, and 1 mm) were produced by knife milling and were pelletized with an ultrasonic pelleting system. Dilute acid method was applied to pretreat biomass before enzymatic hydrolysis. Results suggested 2 mm is the optimum particle size to minimize energy consumption in size reduction and pelleting and to maximize sugar yield among the three particle sizes for big bluestem and wheat straw biomass. Nevertheless, there is no significant difference in sugar yield for corn stover for the three particle sizes.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Illustration of the structure of cellulosic biomass

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Fig. 2

Major steps in cellulosic biofuel manufacturing

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Fig. 3

Milling chamber of the knife mill

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Fig. 4

Schematic of the pelleting process (Reprinted with permission from Springer International Publishing AG)

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Fig. 6

Effects of biomass particle size on size reduction energy consumption

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Fig. 7

Effects of biomass particle size on size pelleting energy consumption

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Fig. 8

Effects of biomass particle size on pellet density

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Fig. 9

Effects of biomass particle size on pellet durability

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Fig. 10

Effects of biomass particle size on sugar yields after (a) 24-h and (b) 48-h hydrolysis

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