Biomass is almost always wet and often at least some of this water has to be removed before it can be used/processed. Drying is a very expensive and often overlooked step in using biomass. Biomass drying requires a considerable source of energy because removing water from biomass is harder than getting it to boil out of a pot and wood dryers are not all that efficient because it’s hard to heat awkward solids like biomass.
In a lot of ways pellets are looking like the future of small scale biomass combustion. They are much easier to handle than firewood and they are an engineered fuel, so they can be used in a precisely engineered manner, which increased efficiency and uptime. Pellet plants are operating all over the nation and in many states have taken over plants that were previously used to produce particle board and fiber board. New designs for better utilization of pellets are happening all the time and this area of bioenergy promises to be interesting area of development for years to come.
Pellets are an excellent way to take loose biomass and make it uniform and high density. You can make pellets from any solid you can get to flow. It’s amazing to look at pellets and think about how different all those sources are, but yet the pellets look similar and would probably work in similar systems. This would be like being able to put gasoline or diesel into an engine and have it work just fine, so being able to make pellets from anything is a big deal.
If you are interested in receiving the written slide notes for each lecture, please contact the USDA supported Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest project at; [email protected]
Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30407 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
This series contains 25 short lectures, each between 10 and 15 minutes long. The content in these lectures is flexible and can be used in a variety of ways to communicate bioenergy concepts to audiences from diverse backgrounds. An important objective of this series is to present facts about bioenergy and biofuels, and use them to explore misconceptions.