AbstractOne dominant challenge facing the development of is achieving consistent system throughput with highly variant biomass feedstock quality and handling performance. Current handling unit operations are adapted from other sectors (primarily agriculture), where some simplifying assumptions about granular mechanics and flow performance do not translate well to a highly compressible, and anisotropic material with non-linear time and stress dependent properties. This work explores the shear and frictional properties of loblolly pine at multiple experimental test apparatus and particle scales to elucidate a property window that defines the shear behavior over a range of material attributes (particle size, size distribution, moisture content, etc.). In general, it was observed that the bulk internal friction and apparent cohesion depend strongly on both the stress state of the sample in granular shear testers, and the overall particle size and distribution span. For equipment designed to characterize the quasi-static shear stress failure of bulk materials ranging from 50–1000 mL in test volume, similar test results were observed for finely milled particles (50% passing size of 1.4 mm) with a narrow size distribution (span between 10% and 90% passing size of 0.9 mm), while stress chaining and over-torque issues persisted for the smaller scale test apparatus for larger particle sizes or widely dispersed sample sizes. Measurement of the anisotropic particle-particle friction ranged from coefficients of approximately 0.20 to 0.45 and resulted in significantly higher, and more variable friction measurements for larger particle sizes and in perpendicular alignment orientations. To supplement these lab-scale properties, this work explores the flow of loblolly pine and Douglas fir through a pilot-scale wedge-shaped hopper and a screw feeder. For the gravity driven hopper flow, the critical arching distance and mass discharge rate ranged from approximately 10–30 mm and 2–16 tonnes/hour, respectively, for both materials, where the arching distance depends strongly on the overall particle size and depends less on the hopper inclination angle. Comparatively, the auger feeder was found to be much more impacted by the size of the particles, where smaller particles had a more consistent and stable flow while consuming less power.
Published: September 21, 2022