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Weathering and Moisture Effects on Switchgrass Size Reduction in a Hammermill

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

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008999.(doi:10.13031/2013.32047)
Authors:   Lester O Pordesimo, Greg A Holt, Igathinathane Cannayen
Keywords:   Grinding, hammermill, particle size analysis, switchgrass, weathered biomass.

Exposure of baled grasses to weathering causes deterioration in chemical composition and physical integrity. Much of the existing research addressing the effects of storage conditions on baled grasses have focused on their effects on the animal nutritional quality subset of chemical composition because of the historical principal use of the grasses as forage for domesticated ruminant animals. Considering that grasses, and herbaceous biomass in general, are now targeted as a bioenergy feedstock, there is a reduced concern for nutritional composition and a greater consideration for physical characteristics. The fact that grasses collected in the form of bales will have to undergo some form of size reduction to be handled in a mass flow manner and be in a convenient form for biorefinery utilization causes this shift in information need. To sustain a biorefinery, the biomass will inevitably have to be stockpiled. In a worst-case scenario, the stockpiled biomass will be exposed to the elements. Consequently, there is a need to understand how the weathered material will interact with processing equipment such as a hammermill. This unreplicated study was undertaken using switchgrass bales available in Starkville, Mississippi in an effort to obtain preliminary data on the consequences of weathering of a biomass material prior to processing. Switchgrass from round bales produced in November of 2006 at Mississippi State University left exposed in the field and square bales produced in November 2007 kept under roof were subjected to test grinding in a hammermill using different screen sizes.

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