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Research Papers: Fuel Combustion

A Temperature Model for Synchronized Ultrasonic Torrefaction and Pelleting of Biomass for Bioenergy Production

[+] Author and Article Information
Mingman Sun

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering,
Kansas State University,
2074 Rathbone Hall, 66506, 1701B Platt Street, Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: mingman@ksu.edu

Yang Yang

Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering,
Kansas State University,
2070 Rathbone Hall, 66506, 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, 66506, 1701B Platt Street, Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: meng@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 August 27, 2018; final manuscript received April 24, 2019; published online May 14, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Abel Hernandez-Guerrero.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 141(10), 102205 (May 14, 2019) (8 pages) Paper No: JERT-18-1667; doi: 10.1115/1.4043634 History: Received August 27, 2018; Accepted April 28, 2019

Low-energy and volumetric density of biomass has been a major challenge, hindering its large-scale utilization as a bioenergy resource. Torrefaction is a thermochemical pretreatment process that can significantly enhance the properties of biomass as a fuel by increasing the heating value and thermal stability of biomass materials. Densification of biomass by pelleting can greatly increase the volumetric density of biomass to improve its handling efficiency. Currently, torrefaction and pelleting are processed separately. So far, there has been little success in dovetailing torrefaction and pelleting, which only requires a single material loading to produce torrefied pellets. Synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting has been developed to address this challenge. Synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting can produce pellets of high energy and volumetric density in a single step, which tremendously reduces the time and energy consumption compared to that required by the prevailing multistep method. This novel fuel upgrading process can increase the biomass temperature to 473–573 K within tens of seconds to create torrefaction. Studying the temperature distribution is crucial to understand the fuel upgrading mechanism since pellet energy density, thermal stability, volumetric density, and durability are all highly related to temperature. A rheological model was established to instantiate biomass behaviors when undergoing various ultrasonic vibration conditions. Process parameters including ultrasonic amplitude, ultrasonic frequency, and pelleting time were studied to show their effects on temperature at different locations in a pellet. Results indicated that the volumetric heat generation rate was greatly affected by both ultrasonic amplitude and frequency. This model can help to understand the fuel upgrading mechanism in synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting and also to give guidelines for process optimization to produce high-quality fuel pellets.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

(a) Maxwell model and (b) generalized Maxwell model

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Fig. 2

(a) Simplified loading condition of biomass and (b) a schematic illustration of the temperature model

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Fig. 3

Regression model of wheat straw storage/loss modulus

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Fig. 4

Typical stress–strain curve of the polymer material in a vibration cycle

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Fig. 5

Schematic illustration of the experimental setup for synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting

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Fig. 6

Predicted temperature distribution (ultrasonic amplitude = 25 µm, pressure = 20 psi)

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Fig. 7

Predicted temperature change over time (ultrasonic amplitude = 25 µm, pressure = 20 psi)

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Fig. 8

Comparison of experimental and simulation results of the pellet center temperature

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Fig. 9

Temperature over time at the pellet top, the center, and the bottom surfaces

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Fig. 10

Temperature profile at the symmetric axis

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Fig. 11

Comparison of experimental and simulation results of the pellet center temperature at different ultrasonic amplitudes

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Fig. 12

The influence of ultrasonic amplitude on temperature at the pellet center

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Fig. 13

The influence of ultrasonic frequency on temperature at the pellet center

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