Rheology of Corn Stover Slurries at High Solids Concentrations - Effects of Saccharification and Particle Size

Sridhar Viamajala, James D. McMillan, Daniel J. Schell, Richard T. Elander

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178 Scopus Citations


The rheological characteristics of untreated and dilute acid pretreated corn stover (CS) slurries at high solids concentrations were studied under continuous shear using plate-plate type measurements. Slurry rheological behavior was examined as a function of insoluble solids concentration (10-40%), extent of pretreatment (0-75% removal of xylan) and particle size (-20 and -80 mesh). Results show that CS slurries exhibit shear-thinning behavior describable using a Casson model. Further, results demonstrate that the apparent viscosity and yield stress increase with increasing solids concentration (which corresponds to a decrease in free water). Dilute acid pretreatment leads to lower viscosity and yield stresses at equivalent solids concentrations, as does smaller particle size. Taken together, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the availability of free water in the slurry plays a significant role in determining its rheological behavior. In particular, as the free water content of the slurry decreases, e.g., with increasing solids concentration, the greater interaction among particles likely increases the apparent viscosity and yield stress properties of the slurry. The results also suggest that the availability of free water, and thereby slurry rheological properties, depend on the chemical composition of the corn stover as well as its physical characteristics such as particle size and porosity. Hydrophilic polymers within the cell wall, such as xylan or pectin, or larger pores within bigger particles, facilitate sequestration of water in the solid phase resulting in decreased availability of free water. Thus, dilute acid pretreated slurries, which contain smaller size particles having significantly lower xylan content than slurries of untreated milled stover, exhibit much lower viscosities and yield stresses than untreated slurries containing large particles at similar solid concentrations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)925-934
Number of pages10
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Available online 28 August 2008

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-42338


  • Biomass slurries
  • High solids
  • Particle slurries
  • Pretreatment
  • Rheology


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