Lignocellulosic biomass has a complex, species-specific microstructure that governs heat and mass transport during conversion processes. A quantitative understanding of the evolution of pore size and structure is critical to optimize conversion processes for biofuel and bio-based chemical production. Further, improving our understanding of the microstructure of biochar coproduct will accelerate development of its myriad applications. This work quantitatively compares the microstructural features and the anisotropic permeabilities of two woody feedstocks, red oak and Douglas fir, using X-ray computed tomography (XCT) before and after the feedstocks are subjected to pyrolysis. Quantitative analysis of the three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions allows for direct calculations of void fractions, pore size distributions and tortuosity factors. Next, 3D images are imported into an immersed boundary based finite volume solver to simulate gas flow through the porous structure and to directly calculate the principal permeabilities along longitudinal, radial, and tangential directions. The permeabilities of native biomass are seen to differ by three to four orders of magnitude in the different principal directions, but we find that this anisotropy is substantially reduced in the biochar formed during pyrolysis. The quantitative transport properties reported here enhance the ability of pyrolysis simulations to account for feedstock-specific effects and thereby provide a useful touchstone for the biorefining community.
Crowley, M. F., Sitaraman, H., Klinger, J., Usseglio-Viretta, F., Thornburg, N. E., Brunhart-Lupo, N., Pecha, M. B., Dooley, J. H., Xia, Y., & Ciesielski, P. N. (2022). Measurement of Transport Properties of Woody Biomass Feedstock Particles Before and After Pyrolysis by Numerical Analysis of X-Ray Tomographic Reconstructions [Original Research]. Frontiers in Energy Research, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenrg.2022.850630
Meagan F. Crowley, Hariswaran Sitaraman, Jordan Klinger, Francois Usseglio-Viretta, Nicholas E. Thornburg, Nicholas Brunhart-Lupo, M. Brennan Pecha, James H. Dooley, Yidong Xia and Peter N. Ciesielski
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