With the world’s population projected to eclipse 7 billion in 2011, and growing at approximately 1.2% per year, finding useable energy resources has become a global challenge. Diminishing supply and environmental concerns have been brought to light in recent years, exposing fossil fuels, currently the world’s primary source of energy, as unsustainable and potentially harmful to the environment. Because of this, clean renewable energy sources are controlling more of the available market, and biomass is one of the leading options on this front.
Biomass is renewable energy derived from living organic material, or material that was recently alive. Wood pellets, corn husks, refuse, black liquor (a waste product of the paper making industry), and alcohol fuels are common examples of materials that classified as biomass. These sources are more sustainable than fossil fuels and, like fossil fuels, are typically incinerated for energy production. Understanding and controlling the moisture and ash content of biomass is important for optimizing its efficiency as a fuel. Further incomplete combustion generates black carbon, which is a pollutant and major contributor to global warming. Traditionally biomass materials have been analyzed for moisture using a conventional oven, and ash using a furnace. These methods are reliable, but often have
long test times, which hinder the manufacturer’s ability to address problems that may arise during processing and decrease the materials ability to act as a suitable energy alternative.
A new method for moisture and ash analysis has been developed that enables accurate moisture and ash testing. An instrument using this method was able to provide real time results, and final water and ash concentrations correlated to standard test methods currently used for multiple materials in different industries. Test times were significantly reduced which affords manufacturers the opportunity to make changes in process quickly
Rapid loss on drying instrumentation has proven to provide a more desirable method of moisture measurement when compared to traditional loss on drying techniques. The ease of use and reduction in test times increases manufacturing efficiency while simultaneously reducing energy costs. This instrumentation is able to provide real time moisture measurements to help users optimize moisture measurement methods.