Upgrading through Preprocessing Technologies
The challenges of efficiently converting raw biomass into usable, affordable, customized bioenergy feedstdocks are many. The bioenergy industry will advance greatly through research on the three principal processes that characterize biomass feedstock engineering—preconversion, formulation and densification.
Preconversion – Preparing the Ingredients
Preconversion treatments are comprised of mechanical, thermal and chemical processes.
- Mechanical treatments tackle the challenge of reducing separating feedstocks for downstream processing. Size reduction is achieved through mechanical grinding and milling, which increases surface area and makes the biomass more reactive in subsequent processing steps. Fractionation breaks biomass into separate components that can be separated, concentrated, and later blended to form highly optimized, advanced feedstocks.
- Thermal and chemical treatments reduce moisture content, remove contaminants, and improve feedstock condition, processing, and stability. These treatments also produce molecular and structural changes that enhance biomass reactivity during conversion processes.
Formulation – Developing the Recipe
Formulation is the blending and mixing of biomass ingredients to develop customized feedstock recipes. Blended ingredients include treated or untreated biomass products, as well as chemical or biological additives that improve catalytic reactions and preserve a feedstock’s best conversion attributes.
Densification – Setting the Recipe
Essential in feedstock formulation, densification uses temperature and pressure to create and “set” the mechanical and chemical bonds necessary to produce a high-density, stable, and consistent bioenergy commodity. Densification retains feedstock quality and enables efficient handling, transportation, and storage using existing equipment and handling systems.