Thursday, April 4, 2013

Maximizing Power from Biomass

Maximizing Power from Biomass
RAPID Loss-On-Drying Moisture, Solids & Ash Analyzer

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 and maximize output.

Moisture and Ash Testing
Moisture and ash testing was conducted on an instrument using the linked testing option. This allowed for a moisture test to be conducted, then an ash test to be conducted without any user input or interface. Testing conditions were established prior to testing and in‐situ monitoring was conducted. Waffle pans were preconditioned prior to testing to remove any film that was used to prevent adherence during stacking. The sample was evenly distributed on the sample pan for each test. Results

Remaining competitive in a market is a challenge for businesses and must be addressed as the market changes. As fossil fuel supplies are depleted and in the wake of recent environment tragedies, the world’s energy suppliers will continue to search for safe, renewable and inexpensive sources in order to meet demand. This has provided an opportunity for nontraditional resources, such as biomass materials, to grab the increasingly available market shares.

Rapid loss on drying and ash content analyzers are essential instruments for companies producing biomass materials. Their implementation significantly reduces testing times associated with traditional testing methods, which allows companies to bring their products to market faster and increase their production. Additionally, these instruments save money by reducing energy costs, increasing employee output, and removing testing variables. These updated testing features will aide biomass material manufactures in maximizing their control of the available market.

James Moore, Chemist
Arizona Instrument LLC

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