The GTI research team will subject lignocellulosic biomass (plant biomass that is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin), in the form of loblolly pine (a lignocellulosic, short rotation woody crop), to hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), creating a densified coal-like product by exposing biomass feedstocks to heat and pressure in the presence of water. The process will deconstruct the lignocellulosic feedstock to produce aqueous and solid streams. The first stage of this work will occur at a small bench-scale facility at the Desert Research Institute to determine optimal HTC processing parameters and develop accurate mass and energy balances. The second stage will utilize larger sample sizes at a larger, dedicated Process Development Unit (PDU). Initially, the HTC product will be mixed with ground coal, pelletized, and assessed for strength and grindability. The durability of lignin and similar binders in wood when subjected to HT will be assessed. In a later phase, loblolly pine samples will be processed using HTC and internally mixed with ground coal within the PDU so that it can be directly formed to a final densified product, which will also be assessed for strength and grindability. GTI will use Aspen software (Aspen Technology, Inc.) to carry out process simulations based on engineering results attained during the project. These simulations will provide the technical basis for developing a techno-economic analysis to evaluate the economic viability of HTC for producing a new coal/HTC biomass fuel.
This Gas Technology Institute project will develop biomass from loblolly pine, to a densified coal-like product suitable for fuel in a CBLT process. The impact of this project will be to develop a cost-effective gasification-based CBTL process to produce renewable liquid fuels that will provide diversity of fuel supply and energy security while resulting in lower future capital and operating costs. Specifically, this project will deconstruct the lignocellulosic feedstock using hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) to produce samples for property testing; from the characteristic data, simulations will be conducted to perform techno-economic analysis to evaluate the viability of HTC for producing a new coal/HTC biomass fuel.
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