Research Papers

Size Reduction of Cellulosic Biomass in Biofuel Manufacturing: Separating the Confounding Effects of Particle Size and Biomass Crystallinity

[+] Author and Article Information
Meng Zhang

e-mail: meng@ksu.edu

Xiaoxu Song

e-mail: xiaoxu@ksu.edu

Pengfei Zhang

e-mail: pengfei@ksu.edu

Z. J. Pei

e-mail: zpei@ksu.edu

T. W. Deines

e-mail: tdeines@ksu.edu
Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering,
Kansas State University,
Manhattan, KS 66506

Donghai Wang

Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering,
Kansas State University,
Manhattan, KS 66506
e-mail: dwang@ksu.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Manufacturing Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering. Manuscript received December 31, 2011; final manuscript received December 17, 2012; published online March 22, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Steven J. Skerlos.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 135(2), 021006 (Mar 22, 2013) (5 pages) Paper No: MANU-11-1418; doi: 10.1115/1.4023378 History: Received December 31, 2011; Revised December 17, 2012

Increasing demands and concerns for reliable supply of liquid transportation fuels make it important to find alternative sources to petroleum-based fuels. Cellulosic biofuels provide one such alternative in the short to medium term. Size reduction is the first step for converting biomass into biofuels. In the literature, there are inconsistent reports about the effects of particle size and biomass crystallinity on sugar yield (proportional to biofuel yield). An important reason for this inconsistence is that particle formation in current size reduction methods is not well controlled, causing the effects of these two variables confounded. One paper investigating the confounding effects of particle size and biomass crystallinity using a metal-cutting (milling) process was previously published in this journal. This paper presents a follow-up study. In this study, a lathe was used to produce poplar wood particles with the same crystallinity but different sizes, making it possible to study the effects of particle size on biofuel yield independently without being confounded by the effects of biomass crystallinity. Results showed that, for the three levels of particle size used in this study, sugar yield increased as particle size became smaller. This study also revealed future research opportunities to understand the effects of size reduction and biomass crystallinity in cellulosic biofuel manufacturing.

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Fig. 1

Preparation of wood cylinders using a hole saw

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Fig. 2

Experimental setup

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Fig. 3

Geometry of the cutting tool

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Fig. 4

Illustration of the cutting process

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Fig. 5

Controlling of particle length using different numbers of slots (four slots in this illustration)

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Fig. 6

Illustration for particle size measurement

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Fig. 7

Crystalline and amorphous regions in cellulose (after Hu, 2008)

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Fig. 8

Results on particle thickness

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Fig. 9

Pictures of produced particles using three different numbers of slots

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Fig. 10

Results on particle surface area

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Fig. 11

Results on chip (particle) thickness ratio

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Fig. 12

Results on biomass crystallinity

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Fig. 13

Results on sugar yield



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