Research Topic

Storage of Biomass Feedstocks: Risks and Opportunities

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About this Research Topic

Storage is a necessary unit operation in the biomass feedstock logistics supply chain, enabling biorefineries to run year-round despite daily, monthly, and seasonal variations in feedstock availability. For example, agricultural sources of biomass, such as corn stover are harvested annually and require up to ...

Storage is a necessary unit operation in the biomass feedstock logistics supply chain, enabling biorefineries to run year-round despite daily, monthly, and seasonal variations in feedstock availability. For example, agricultural sources of biomass, such as corn stover are harvested annually and require up to 9 months of storage to enable year-round operation. Industries that rely on forest resources, including the pulp and paper industry, often store biomass onsite at the processing center for days or weeks to ensure that sufficient material is available. There is much uncertainty about the effect of storage on different feedstocks and for differing utilization approaches. This Research Topic will focus on the impact of storage of biomass prior to utilization for bioenergy and/or bio-based products.

At a minimum, effective storage approaches must preserve biomass. Uncontrolled loss of biomass due to microbial degradation is common when storage conditions are not optimized. This can lead to physical and mechanical challenges with biomass handling, size reduction, and preprocessing. Degradation in storage can also result in biomass that is more recalcitrant to chemical and enzymatic approaches to depolymerization, and ultimately results in lower product yields. Loss of feedstock to fires is also possible with dry, combustible feedstocks such as baled material.

This Research Topic will focus on the following areas including, but not limited to:
-Biomass feedstocks including, but not limited to, agricultural residues (i.e. corn stover, wheat straw), herbaceous energy crops (switchgrass, miscanthus, energy cane, sweet sorghum), woody energy crops (hybrid poplar, coppice willow), forest product residues, forest thinnings, microalgae and macroalgae species, and fractions of municipal solid wastes.
-Impacts of storage format on dry matter preservation, including bales, piles, and other aerobic and anaerobic approaches;
-Impact of moisture content on stable storage including moisture migration in dry storage and leaching in wet storage approaches;
-Effect of storage on downstream conversion to biofuels or bio-based products including biological/biochemical and thermal/thermochemical conversion pathways;
-Opportunities to use storage to begin to deconstruct the biomass, making it easier to depolymerize prior to conversion.


Keywords: bioenergy, preservation, degradation, self-heating, composition


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