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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Biomass Pre-Processing by Torrefaction Improves Biofuel Consistency

Wood chips torrefied at different temperatures. USDA Forest Service.
Wood chips torrefied at different temperatures. USDA Forest Service.
Snapshot: Custom-made equipment fabricated for the torrefaction of wood chips now provides the sample quantities needed for application testing and quality control assessments.

Biofuel properties can be improved through torrefaction, a thermal process whereby biomass is treated with moderately elevated temperatures (200 to 300 °C) under conditions that are essentially anaerobic and at atmospheric pressure. A custom-made crucible furnace retort was fabricated to produce intermediate quantities of torrefied material and accommodate large particles that would be encountered in real-world operations. Varying the torrefaction conditions of temperature, and treatment duration, generated products having varying degrees of thermal degradation. For pulp-grade pine wood chips, yields ranged from 51% to 96%, and were impacted to a greater extent by varying the treatment temperature as opposed to the treatment time. Spectroscopy-based models were developed as a rapid assessment technique for use in a production environment to measure yields and facilitate adjustments to process parameters. Regarding the use of torrefied wood as a feedstock for thermochemical operations, higher treatment temperatures, which gave the lowest yields of torrefied wood, demonstrated the highest recalcitrance during liquefactions targeted to generate liquid chemical products from wood.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Eberhardt, Thomas

Research Location:
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Pineville, Louisiana

Forest Service Partners:
  • Southern Research Station

External Partners:
  • Louisiana State University, Agricultural Center

Fiscal Year: 2018
Highlight ID: 1300
Related Research Emphasis Areas: