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Utilization of Degraded Wood Chips in a Cogeneration System

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 56(1): 269-275. (doi: 10.13031/2013.42578) @2013
Authors:   J. K. Ward, J. D. Davis, C. S. Ryals
Keywords:   Biodegradation, CHP, Disaster, Energy recovery

In the southeastern U.S., woody debris is plentiful after significant disaster events such as hurricanes. Combined heating and power (CHP) systems could utilize this feedstock as a fuel source to provide electricity in the disaster zone. Simulations have shown that a properly located CHP system could operate using easily accessible forested roadway disaster debris. One assumption of these simulations was that the energy content of the wood feedstock remained constant. Therefore, a study was designed to simulate specific biodegradation scenarios for wood chips over twelve weeks. The objectives were to assess energy content change as well as cell component change in wood chip feedstock. The degradation scenarios were designed to simulate placement of wood chips on soil, pavement, in standing water, and the absence of these factors by being suspended in the air. Energy content was measured using a bomb calorimeter following standard methods. There were no definitive differences in energy content over time or among treatments. Ash and component composition analysis were conducted. Ash content increased over time and was highest for wood chips exposed to standing water. Hemicellulose responded to treatment, with water causing the most degradation. Cellulose increased over time but with no difference among treatments. Lignin increased over time, with the greatest increase occurring with the water treatment. For a three-month window, it was safe to assume no change in energy content of debarked wood chips for the operation of a CHP unit in a disaster recovery scenario. Future simulations with wood chips stored similarly to this study can rely on published data for woody feedstock energy content.

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