Impacts of Biological Heating and Degradation during Bale Storage on the Surface Properties of Corn Stover

Elizabeth Bose, Juan Leal, Amber Hoover, Yining Zeng, Chenlin Li, Allison Ray, Troy Semelsberger, Bryon Donohoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


The variability of chemical, physical, and mechanical properties of lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks has a major impact on the efficiency of biomass processing and conversion to fuels and chemicals. Storage conditions represent a key source of variability that may contribute to biomass quality variations from the time of harvest until delivery to the biorefinery. In some cases, substantial microbial degradation can take place during storage. In this work, we investigate how degradation during storage affects the surface texture, surface energy, and porosity of different corn stover anatomical fractions (e.g., leaf, stalk, and cob). Understanding any potential changes in surface properties is important because interparticle interactions during bioprocessing cause aggregation and blockages that lead to at least process inefficiency and at most complete equipment failure. The surface roughness and texture parameters of corn stover with variable degrees of microbial degradation were calculated directly from stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy micrographs. Surface energy and porosity were measured by inverse gas chromatography. The results show differing trends in the impact of increasing biological heating and degradation depending on the specific corn stover tissue type that was analyzed. These results also indicate that biomass surface properties are scale-dependent and that the scale, which is most industrially relevant, may depend on the specific unit operation within the biorefinery being considered.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13973-13983
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number37
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-77055


  • biological degradation
  • biomass feedstock
  • corn stover
  • porosity
  • surface area
  • surface characterization


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