Feedstock Physical Performance Modeling


The FCIC Feedstock Physical Performance Modeling project overcomes a major limitation facing biorefineries—downtime caused by material handling, milling, feeding, and wear challenges—by relating variability in biomass mechanical properties to failures and variation in equipment throughput.

Existing engineering models, which are based upon the behavior of Mohr-Coulomb fine powders, do not reliably predict biomass material performance during preprocessing and feeding operations. 

Studies of equipment failures involving auger feeders, conveyors, grinders and mixers at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggest complex interactions between different material properties, including material cohesion, material adhesion to equipment surfaces, particle size distribution and compressibility. 

By understanding the relationships between the key mechanical properties, FCIC researchers seek to accurately and reliably predict the mechanical behavior of diverse biomass materials in many conditions, formats and flow scenarios (e.g. high/low temperature, high/low pressure, high/low moisture content, high/low shear rates and large/small particles). 

Researchers will develop appropriate characterization tests to determine mechanical behavior of biomass particles so that predictive, mechanistic models can be used to design reliable industry operations based on knowledge from lab and pilot scale studies.



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