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Research Focus: Improving the conversion process for Sorghum Bagasse biomass


Dr. Abdul-Sattar Nizami, King Abdulaziz University, Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies (CEES), Saudi Arabia.

The conservation of biomass is essential for ensuring a continuous and quality supply of feedstock for biofuel facilities around the year. However, the conservation of biomass needs appropriate pretreatments in order to guarantee a high quality (and yield) of fuel and fiber production. This study looked into the possibility of developing a large-scale drying system for Sorghum Bagasse.

Title of Peer Reviewed and Accepted Research Paper

Author(s)

  • T. Iqbal, Department of Process and Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Putra, Selangor, Malaysia
  • A.S. Nizami, Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • S. Eckhoff, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Energy Bioscience Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois 61810, USA
  • M.L.A. Barreto, Department of Chemistry, Federal University of Vicosa, Vicosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
  • Y. Sadef, College of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  • M. Rehan, Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • W.M. Budzianowski, Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development (RESD) Group, Wroclaw, Poland; Poland Consulting Services, Wroclaw, Poland
  • O.K.M Ouda, Department of Civil Engineering, Prince Mohamed Bin Fahd University, Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia
  • K. Shahzad,* Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

What are the key findings of your research (in brief)?

The conservation of biomass is essential for ensuring a continuous and quality supply of feedstock for biofuel facilities around the year. However, this conservation needs appropriate pretreatments in order to guarantee a high quality and yield of fuel and fiber production.

The primary objective of this research was to facilitate and optimise large-scale drying systems for biomass conservation.

Drying is a critical step in biomass pretreatment and conservation. In the drying process, important factors to consider are energy efficiency, heat integration, emissions control and dryer performance. The air velocity in the dryer relies on the pressure head and power consumption of the fans to be used. The reduction in air velocity causes less pressure head and energy consumption by the fan. Therefore during crop storage, if the moisture contents are not reduced under field drying, forced aeration or drying by air is performed.

We also focused strongly on Sorghum Bagasse, which has emerged as a potential feedstock for biofuels (and value-added products) production in recent years. However, research is still being conducted into the conservation of Sorghum Bagasse as a feedstock, investigating areas such as how to achieve continuous feedstock supply to biofuels plants year-round, as well as how to maximise the economic and efficient production of fuel and energy.

In the research paper we examined the pressure drop as a function of airflow velocity, and constructed Shedd’s curves for Sorghum Bagasse. The ambition was to develop large-scale drying systems for biomass conservation, and ultimately maximise the economic and environmental benefits of biofuel plants (nb - there is limited research on the mechanism of pressure drop in drying systems for chopped biomass or documented in the D272.3 ASABE standard that presents pressure drop values as a function of airflow for 33 crop seeds).

We found that the Shedd’s curves developed for Sorghum Bagasse samples could lead to designing large-scale aeration systems for chopped energy sorghum. In addition, the results of the optimised drying system could assist the whole production chain of biofuels by conserving biomass, and allowing it to be used more economically around the year in biofuel plants.

What are the possible next steps for this research?

The Shedd’s curves developed and discussed could be used to design large-scale drying systems for biomass.

The modified Ergun’s equation (for calculating pressure through a fixed bed), along with anappropriate porosity model based on material features - including particle size, density and bulk density within a storage container - could be used for developing optimum aeration systems. In addition, the aspects of bioreactors, including energy efficiency, heat integration, emission control and dryer performance along with technical, economic and environmental evaluation should be considered in upscaling the biomass drying system to a larger scale.

Moreover, bioreactor design should be robust and flexible for process expansion and capable of treating batch and continuous supply of biomass around the year.

About the Senior Author and Principal Investigator
Dr. Abdul-Sattar Nizami has a Ph.D. in Sustainable Gaseous Biofuel from the University College Cork, Ireland (2008-2011). After his Ph.D., he worked at the University of Toronto, Canada as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Course Builder. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor and Head of Solid Waste Research Unit at the Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies (CEES) of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Accessing the full text version of the Paper
Biomass Conservation using an Optimised Drying Process for Energy - Sorghum Bagasse (Click here for full text access to the Paper)'.

 

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