Wood chips and many other high moisture sources of biomass must be dried and milled prior to conversion to densified fuel pellets, co-firing with coal to produce power, or otherwise converted to bioenergy using thermal methods. Up to 75% of the energy used by pellet mills is consumed for drying and particle size reduction (aka comminution). Drying and comminution can add $25 - $30 per ton to the cost of non-densified small-particle biomass fuels and feedstocks.
We are addressing the need by developing new data sets for drying parameters specific to biomass feedstocks and physical process model-predictive dryer control strategies / algorithms that can be incorporated into industrial control systems. Prior research results from Forest Concepts' studies suggest that dryer residence time can be reduced by more than half, and that energy consumption can be reduced by one-third with more optimal feedstock comminution, dryer design, and dryer operation.