Feedstock Solutions

Researchers, members of industry unite to report on feedstock densification
By Erin Voegele | October 25, 2011

Approximately 100 professionals working in the feedstock and biorefining sectors recently met at Idaho National Laboratory to participate in a U.S. DOE-funded workshop. According to Kevin Kenney, an INL research engineer who served as a principle planner and host for the event, one of the primary objectives of the group was to develop a report for Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Our objective was to broaden the view of densification from just a mass and energy perspective to include what are referred to as preconversion and formulation concepts.” The group also aimed to engage the development of partnerships that would put INL’s feedstock process demonstration unit (PDU) to work.

The PDU is a full-scale biomass preprocessing system that converts biomass into high-quality feedstock. “In the simplest terms, it looks very much like a pellet mill, only it’s much, much more than that,” Kenney says. “It’s a research tool that we use to develop and demonstrate the concepts of preconversion formulations and densification.” Since the unit is commercial scale, it is able to produce feedstock that biorefining companies can use for rather large-scale research purposes. Kenney says the main components of the PDU are grinders, hammer mills, a rotary drum dryer, and a pellet mill.

While Kenney notes that to date the PDU has only been used to process cellulosic feedstocks, he says the system is certainly not limited to any specific feedstock type. For example, the system would work well with potential biodiesel and biobased jet fuel feedstocks such as camelina.

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