Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Biomass: Pellets

The widespread efficient utilisation of biomass to energy requires methods for increasing the energy density of the biomass. Turning loose biomass into compressed pellets is one promising approach to making biomass easier to handle. Read more here about a fascinating machine capable of making fine powders out of virtually any form of biomass, which can bagged and shipped, or processed into pellets, briquettes, or other convenient bulk form.

An entire industry is expected to grow around the pre-processing of biomass for later processing to pellets, biofuels, and electricity. In the near term, if you are using corn stover as biomass fuel to run a 50 mgy maize ethanol plant, how much area do you need to supply the necessary stover?
Lets say the plant is surrounded by corn fields. The corn yield is 150 bushels/acre, half the above ground weight of the corn plant represents grain, the other half is corn stover. If the farmer is willing to take off 50% of the corn stover each year you would have about 2.1 tons per acre available. The plant needs 132,000 tons per year. So you need about 63,000 acres to draw from. If the area is pure corn ground the radius would be 5.6 miles. __QiBioenergy
So to supply feedstock and biomass fuel to run a 50 million gallon a year maize ethanol facility, you would need a 5.6 mile radius crop circle.

Getting from here to there will require local and regional planning. Different regions grow different biomass. Logging regions obviously grow woody biomass, and produce woody bio-waste. Agricultural areas grow crop biomass such as corn stover. Marginal lands can grow switchgrass and other perennial wildgrasses adapted to biomass.

The growing, harvesting, pre-processing (pellets, bales, etc), and final processing should all be planned and controlled on a regional and local level, in reponse to local and regional needs.



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