A packed bed Ammonia Fiber Expansion reactor system for pretreatment of agricultural residues at regional depots

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Abstract

Background:

Pretreatment of biomass at regional depots could simplify supply logistics for the emerging biofuels industry. Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX™) could be an appropriate pretreatment method for use at depots, if the process can be simplified. Here we investigate pretreatment of corn stover and wheat straw using a simple packed bed AFEX system that exploits the high porosity of biomass to facilitate ammonia transport.

Results & discussion:

Steam stripping vertical packed beds allowed recovery of more than 90% residual ammonia as substantially dry vapor. AFEX-treated biomass gave enzyme hydrolysis yields equal to biomass treated in stirred batch reactors, and formed durable pellets.

Conclusion:

Packed bed AFEX shows significant promise as a biomass pretreatment for use at distributed depots.

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