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Title: Thermal Pretreatment of Wood for Cogasification/cofiring of Biomass and Coal

Utilization of biomass as a co-feed in coal and biomass co-firing and co-gasification requires size reduction of the biomass. Reducing biomass to below 0.2 mm without pretreatment is difficult and costly because biomass is fibrous and compressible. Torrefaction is a promising thermal pretreatment process and has the advantages of increasing energy density, improving grindability, producing fuels with more homogenous compositions and hydrophobic behavior. Temperature is the most important factor for the torrefaction process. Biomass grindability is related to cell wall structure, thickness and composition. Thermal treatment such as torrefaction can cause chemical changes that significantly affect the strength of biomass. The objectives of this study are to understand the mechanism by which torrefaction improves the grindability of biomass and discuss suitable temperatures for thermal pretreatment for co-gasification/cofiring of biomass and coal. Wild cherry wood was selected as the model for this study. Samples were prepared by sawing a single tangential section from the heartwood and cutting it into eleven pieces. The samples were consecutively heated at 220, 260, 300, 350, 450 and 550oC for 0.5 hr under flowing nitrogen in a tube furnace. Untreated and treated samples were characterized for physical properties (color, dimensions and weight), microstructural changes by SEM,more » and cell wall composition changes and thermal behaviors by TGA and DSC. The morphology of the wood remained intact through the treatment range but the cell walls were thinner. Thermal treatments were observed to decompose the cell wall components. Hemicellulose decomposed over the range of ~200 to 300oC and resulted in weakening of the cell walls and subsequently improved grindability. Furthermore, wood samples treated above 300oC lost more than 39% in mass. Therefore, thermal pretreatment above the hemicelluloses decomposition temperature but below 300oC is probably sufficient to improve grindability and retain energy value.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
National Energy Technology Laboratory - In-house Research
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
Country of Publication:
United States