Evaluation of Basic Parameters for Packaging, Storage and Transportation of Biomass Material from Field to Biorefinery
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The universal adoption of biomass materials as an alternate fuel source to fossil fuels for transportation and electricity has been hindered by the high transportation costs involved in fuel production. Optimization of these initial costs will make the eco-friendly fuels more economically viable. Biomass is a promising feedstock for biofuels primarily because it is a renewable and sustainable resource. Among the most studied grassland crops, switchgrass is a perennial warm-season grass and has been identified as a potential energy crop. This research focuses on evaluating various physical parameters which affect the economic feasibility of packaging and transporting switchgrass from the field to the biorefinery. The switchgrass was harvested using a mower conditioner followed by field chopping after varying drying periods. The first harvesting period spanned from early November to mid December 2007 and the second was August to October 2008. Densification properties of chopped switchgrass were studied under compression. The effects of compressive stresses (41 to 101 kPa), number of strokes (1 to 10), moisture content (9 to 62 percent) and chopping length (63 and 95 mm) on the densification of chopped switchgrass were studied. The final dry matter density (DMD) increased with the compressive stresses and the number of strokes, small chop length and low moisture content. The maximum free-standing DMD obtained was 245 kg/m^3.