The Effects of Physical and Chemical Preprocessing on the Flowability of Corn Stover

Nathan Crawford, Nicholas Nagle, David Sievers, Jonathan Stickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus Citations


Continuous and reliable feeding of biomass is essential for successful biofuel production. However, the challenges associated with biomass solids handling are commonly overlooked. In this study, we examine the effects of preprocessing (particle size reduction, moisture content, chemical additives, etc.) on the flow properties of corn stover. Compressibility, flow properties (interparticle friction, cohesion, unconfined yield stress, etc.), and wall friction were examined for five corn stover samples: ground, milled (dry and wet), acid impregnated, and deacetylated. The ground corn stover was found to be the least compressible and most flowable material. The water and acid impregnated stovers had similar compressibilities. Yet, the wet corn stover was less flowable than the acid impregnated sample, which displayed a flow index equivalent to the dry, milled corn stover. The deacetylated stover, on the other hand, was the most compressible and least flowable examined material. However, all of the tested stover samples had internal friction angles >30°, which could present additional feeding and handling challenges. All of the "wetted" materials (water, acid, and deacetylated) displayed reduced flowabilities (excluding the acid impregnated sample), and enhanced compressibilities and wall friction angles, indicating the potential for added handling issues; which was corroborated via theoretical hopper design calculations. All of the "wetted" corn stovers require larger theoretical hopper outlet diameters and steeper hopper walls than the examined "dry" stovers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 .

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-64986


  • Biomass
  • Feedstock
  • Flowability
  • Hopper design
  • Rheology
  • Shear


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