Conference Dates

March 8-13, 2009


Biomass quality is an essential parameter for the production of biofuels both by thermal ways (gasification, pyrolysis, torrefaction, etc) or biochemical ways (enzymatic hydrolysis and yeast saccharification). Storage is one of the most important parameters to be taken in account in the logistics chains of biomass supply for biofuel conversion sites. Morever, some benefits in terms of biomass quality can be obtained by storing biomass prior transportation or usage. In this case, storage can be considered as a pre-treatment of biomass for biofuel production.

In this project, we have studied the evolution of biomass quality of different wooden resources (softwoods and hardwoods; short/very-short rotation coppices and residues of forest exploitation) stored under different conditions : seasons (spring/summer or autumn/winter), sites (forest roadside and storage platforms; uncovered and covered; under water sprinkling). Two locations were also tested, one in Bordeaux area (southwest of France) and the second in Dijon area (northeast of France). Different piles of approximately 10 m3 (2.5 to 3.5 tons of wood chips) were constituted for each modality. Samples were taken from two different levels of the piles at different intervals of storage (0 to 6 months).

The following biomass quality parameters were followed : moisture content, elemental (C, H, O, N, S, Cl) and chemical (extractives, lignin, polysaccharides – cellulose and hemicelluloses, C5 and C6 sugars contents) composition; heating value; ash content, fusibility behaviour and composition.

The results obtained indicated that the conditions of storage strongly influence the biomass quality, especially for the thermal conversion. The type of initial raw material (softwoods or hardwoods / short/very-short rotation coppices and residues of forest exploitation) are also of major importance, especially if the biomass material is stored with or without leaves. In that way, the season aspect becomes very important. Water sprinkling is an interesting way to remove certain compounds, such ash constituents or extractives, partially responsible for tar formation. On the other way, in this case a compulsory drying step is needed and a careful energy balance is needed in order to evaluate the pertinence or not of this technology. Concerning the biochemical conversion, no major differences were observed for the mono/polysaccharides contents. However, the removal of certain elements/substances could impact the enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation for bioethanol production.