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A study of softwood torrefaction and densification for the production of high quality wood pellets

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Title: A study of softwood torrefaction and densification for the production of high quality wood pellets
Author: Peng, Jiang Hong
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Chemical and Biological Engineering
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-07-11
Abstract: British Columbia (BC) has become a major producer and exporter of wood pellets in the world. But the low energy density, the low water resistivity, the short shelf life, and the transportation cost impede the market development. Torrefaction, a thermal treatment without air or oxygen at 200-300°C, may provide a solution. The present study developed the torrefaction kinetics of BC softwood residues in a thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA), studied the effect of the torrefaction reaction conditions on the properties of torrefied sawdust in a bench-scale fixed bed reactor and a bench-scale fluidized bed reactor, and identified the suitable conditions for making durable torrefied pellets in a press machine using torrefied samples. The weight loss of BC softwood residues significantly depended on the torrefaction temperature, the residence time, the particle size, and the oxygen concentration in the carrier gas. The weight loss could be approximately estimated from the weight loss of the chemical compositions. A two-component and one-step first order reaction kinetic model gave a good agreement with data over short residence time on the weight loss range of 0 to 40% at the temperature of 260-300°C. The heating value of torrefied pellets had a close relationship with the weight loss, increasing with increasing the severity of torrefaction. The torrefied samples were more difficult to be compressed into strong pellets under the same conditions as used for making the control (regular, untreated, conventional) pellets. More energy was needed for compacting torrefied samples into torrefied pellets. Increasing the die temperature and adding moisture into torrefied samples could improve the quality of torrefied pellets. The moisture content and density of torrefied pellets were lower than control pellets. Considering the quality of torrefied pellets, the optimal torrefaction conditions appeared to correspond to a weight loss of about 30%, which gave a 20% increase in pellet heating value and good hydrophobicity. The suitable densification conditions corresponded to a die temperature of 230°C, or over 110°C for torrefied samples conditioned to 10% moisture content.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/42654
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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