Image Analysis for Rapid Assessment and Quality-Based Sorting of Corn Stover

Ling Ding, Amber Hoover, Rachel Emerson, Kuan-Ting Lin, Josephine Gruber, Bryon Donohoe, Jordan Klinger, Rachel Colby, Brad Thomas, William Smith, Allison Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Imaging in the visible spectrum is a low-cost tool that can be readily deployed for in-field or over-belt monitoring of biomass quality for bio-refining operations. Rapid image analysis coupled with innovative preprocessing may reduce the impacts of feedstock variability through identification of contaminants or other material attributes to guide selective sorting and quality management. Image analysis was employed to evaluate the quality of corn stover in red-green-blue (RGB) chromatic space. This study used controlled, bench-scale imaging as a proof-of-concept for rapid quality assessment of corn stover based on variations in material attributes, including chemical and physical attributes, that relate to biological degradation and soil contamination. Logistic regression-based classification algorithms were used to develop a method for biomass screening as a function of biological degradation or soil contamination. This study demonstrated the use of image analysis to extract features from RGB color space to investigate variations in critical material attributes from chemical composition of corn stover. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) suggested a correlation between red band intensity and biological degradation, while detailed surface texture analysis was found to distinguish among variations in ash. These insights offer promise for development of a rapid screening tool that could be deployed by farmers for in-field assessment of biomass quality or biorefinery operators for in-line sorting and process optimization.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number837698
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Energy Research
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Ding, Hoover, Emerson, Lin, Gruber, Donohoe, Klinger, Colby, Thomas, Smith and Ray.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-82362


  • biological degradation
  • chemical composition
  • corn stover
  • feedstock variability
  • FT-IR
  • image analysis
  • rapid detection


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