Research Topic

Molecular and Elemental Effects of Thermal Conversion of Biomass

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The utilization of renewable biomass for energy and fuel generation has distinct strategic, economic and environmental advantages. A fundamental requirement for beneficial thermochemical conversion systems is, however, an understanding of the high temperature chemical and mechanical transport behavior of the ...

The utilization of renewable biomass for energy and fuel generation has distinct strategic, economic and environmental advantages. A fundamental requirement for beneficial thermochemical conversion systems is, however, an understanding of the high temperature chemical and mechanical transport behavior of the condensed and volatile compounds in reaction systems. The volatile release of inorganic species from biomass is dictated by the decomposition of the organic network, leaving the inorganic components to be partitioned between the product gas and the solid fractions. The inorganic species carried by the gas include metallic and ionic vapor molecules as well as submicroscopic char and particulate aerosol particles, with only the latter being captured in some amount as fly ash in low temperature exit filters.

The release and migration of elements, particularly potassium and chlorine, during thermal treatment of biomass materials are well documented, although the mechanisms are often less well understood. Traditional studies have utilized mass balance requirements and solid and vapor phase equilibrium calculations based on thermodynamic free energy minimization. Various multi-element spectroscopic techniques have also been utilized to measure the vapor phase associated with thermal treatment of biomass. The recent developments in hyphenated approaches, often including mass spectroscopy, have opened new avenues for understanding the breakdown of the molecular structure and the interaction of metal components with organic constituents. Contributions are invited from experimentalists working with variously scaled techniques from the tabletop and laboratory as well as industrial applications, including, but not restricted to, combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, and hydrothermal treatments.

The goal of this Research Topic is to provide a better interdisciplinary understanding of the interaction of metallic compounds and organics and their relevant transport mechanisms in the flue gas and partitioning between the condensed and the volatile phases. This could lead to a better understanding of reactor design as well as the toxicity of residual material from thermal treatment of common biomass feedstock and ultimately may allow for a forward modeling approach to evaluate technical and environmental risks.

We welcome contributions from theoretical, experimental, and practical approaches from a wide range of disciplines in the form of reports on original research as well as comprehensive reviews.

Image copyright Guest Editor Prof Peter Thy


Keywords: Biomasses, Thermochemical Conversion, Combustion, Gasification, Evolved Gases, Volatile Releases, Inorganic Species, Flue and Product Gases, Thermodynamic Equilibrium, On-line Spectroscopic Measurements, Transport Mechanisms, Environmental Risks


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