Simulations of Heat and Mass Transport During Biomass Conversion Processes Using 3D Biomass Particle Models with Realistic Morphology and Resolved Microstructure

P. Ciesielski[1], M. Crowley[1], L. Thompson[1], B. Donohoe[1], D. Robichaud[2], A. Sanders[3], M. Nimlos[2], T. Foust[2]
[1]Biosciences Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA
[2]National Bioenergy Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA
[3]Quantum Electronics & Photonics Division, National Institute of Standards & Technology, Boulder, CO, USA
Published in 2014

Predictive simulations of biomass conversion processes will improve their technical performance and reduce economic uncertainty surrounding industrialization of biofuels production. The majority of present conversion simulations treat the biomass feedstock with simplifying assumptions that neglect important characteristics that are unique to biomass particles. These characteristics, including morphology and microstructure, vary substantially between species and can impact heat and mass transfer. I will present methods to construct improved biomass particles based on direct microscopic measurements of particle morphology and microstructural dimensions. The resultant models serve as the geometry for simulations of transport phenomena coupled to chemical transformation. These simulations are used to predict particle heat-up times and extent of conversion during fast pyrolysis as a function of size, shape, and species.