Joseph J. Biernacki

Tennessee Tech University

Thermal characteristics of biomass micro-spheres

Sudikshya Bhandari

As dependence on transportation fuels and chemicals grows and the world’s fossil petroleum resources shrink, biomass-based alternatives, such as pyrolysis, have become an important area of study as sources of renewables. Biomass is an irregular matter characterized as fibrous, yet ill-defined masses, though extensively studied in its various raw and in reduced forms such as milled particles. A novel technology developed at Tennessee Technological University (TTU) converts finely milled biomass flour into microspheres ranging in size from 50 to 500 mm.  Biomass microspheres are a unique laboratory and scalable innovation with regular geometry developed to further biomass pyrolysis research for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. My work is a comparative study of the thermal characteristics of our  biomass microspheres and the respective parent materials from which they were made.  Slow pyrolysis using thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and derivative thermograviemetry (DTG) is being performed along with evolved gas analysis using mass spectroscopy (MS).  Thermograms are being collected at same experimental conditions. The effects of heat and mass transfer is being studied using biomass microspheres of different particle size ranges of 106-150 µm, 150-250 µm and 250-600 µm and samples of different mass 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg to explore intra-particle and inter-particle effects. These results will then be used along with similar experiments to be conducted in the TTU fast pyrolysis reactor to discern pyrolysis rate controlling factors.

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