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Effect of biochar additive in torrefied biomass: energy consumption, mass yield, grinding performance, and thermochemical properties

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

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100926.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100926)
Authors:   Obiora S Agu, Lope G Tabil, Edmund Mupondwa, Duncan Cree, Bagher Emadi
Keywords:   Biochar, microwave torrefaction, camelina straw, switchgrass, elemental composition

Abstract. The possibilities of applying biochar in mild torrefaction treatment to improve the thermochemical characteristics of ground biomass is the focus of the study. Camelina straw and switchgrass were torrefied in a reactor using microwave irradiation at microwave power levels of 520 W and 650 W and torrefaction times 10, 15 and 20 min under nitrogen-activated inert condition. The results showed that the addition of biochar reduced the energy requirement of torrefaction and grinding performance. The addition of biochar with higher microwave power and longer torrefaction time decreased the moisture content, increased the ash content from 1 to 5 wt % (dry basis) of the raw sample, and decreased solid yield of camelina straw and switchgrass. The results indicate that biochar addition reduced torrefaction energy consumption at longer microwave power and torrefaction time from 10 – 20 min, decreased the hydrogen, oxygen, and sulphur contents and improved higher heating values from 18.90 MJ/kg to 23.68 MJ/kg for camelina straw and 18.83 MJ/kg to 25.51 MJ/kg for switchgrass. Based on the findings, biochar additives influenced the physical, energy and chemical properties of the torrefied biomass.

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