Small Solution for Big Biomass Problem

Joanna Schroeder

Many people have high hopes for biomass as a bioenergy crop. For example, several companies are looking to convert corn stover and corn cobs to cellulosic ethanol. But there are several challenges currently being researched including transportation, storage and moisture content. High moisture feedstocks can muck up the hammer mill system. However, many advanced biofuel producers do not want completely dry feedstocks.

The solution will lie in a technology that works well to produce uniform small particles from we feedstocks. Forest Concepts engineers have been working on this and believe they have the technological solution. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Crumbler M24 shears high moisture feedstocks to uniform particles as small as 1.6 mm (1/16 inches). The company says the technology has been used successfully on wood chips, corn stover, switchgrass, bamboo, sage and other biomass-based feedstocks with moisture ranging from 10 to 80 percent.

The Crumbler M24 is now commercially available and has a 24 inch cutting width, and can process more than two green tons of wood chips or other plant materials per hour. According to Forest Concepts, the machine is powered by a 20 hp electric motor and operated by a built in computerized programmable logic controller (plc). The plc enables full integration with other process controls at a biomass processing facility or biorefinery. Other models with capacities up to 20 green tons per hour are currently under development.

advance biofuels, biomass