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Energies 2018, 11(4), 780; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11040780

Energy Requirements for Biomass Harvest and Densification

Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
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Received: 6 March 2018 / Revised: 23 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Energy)
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Abstract

This research quantified the unit and bulk density of several biomass crops across a variety of harvest and processing methods, as well as the energy and fuel requirements for these operations. A load density of approximately 240 kg·m−3 is needed to reach the legal weight limit of most transporters. Of the three types of balers studied, only the high density (HD) large square baler achieved this target density. However, the specific energy and fuel requirements increased exponentially with bale density, and at the maximum densities for corn stover and switchgrass, the dry basis energy and fuel requirements ranged from 4.0 to 5.0 kW·h·Mg−1 and 1.2 to 1.4 L·Mg−1, respectively. Throughputs of tub grinders when grinding bales was less than any other harvesting or processing methods investigated, so specific energy and fuel requirements were high and ranged from 13 to 32 kW·h·Mg−1 and 5.0 to 11.3 L·Mg−1, respectively. Gross size-reduction by pre-cutting at baling increased bale density by less than 6% and increased baling energy requirements by 11% to 22%, but pre-cut bales increased the tub grinder throughput by 25% to 45% and reduced specific fuel consumption for grinding by 20% to 53%. Given the improvement in tub grinder operation, pre-cutting bales should be considered as a means to increase grinder throughput. Additional research is needed to determine the energy required to grind high density pre-cut bales at high throughputs so that better estimates of total energy required for a high density bale system can be made. An alternative bulk feedstock system was investigated that involved chopping moist biomass crops with a precision-cut forage harvester, compacting the bulk material in a silo bag, and then segmenting the densified material into modules optimized for efficient transport. The specific fuel use for chopping and then compacting biomass crops in the silo bag ranged from 1.6 to 3.0 L·Mg−1 and 0.5 to 1.3 L·Mg−1, respectively. At the proposed moistures, the compacted density in the silo bags was sufficient to achieve weight-limited transport although there would be less dry matter (DM) shipped than with the high density dry bale system. Additional development work is needed to create transportable modules from the compacted silo bag. The overall results of this research will allow more accurate estimates of biomass logistics costs based on product density and energy expenditures. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomass; bales; density; energy; processing biomass; bales; density; energy; processing
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Shinners, K.; Friede, J. Energy Requirements for Biomass Harvest and Densification. Energies 2018, 11, 780.

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