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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Assessment on bulk solids best practice techniques for flow characterization and storage/handling equipment design for biomass materials of different classes

Barletta, Diego; Berry, Robert J.; Larsson, Sylvia; Lestander, Torbjörn; Poletto, Massimo; Ramírez-Gómez, Álvaro


This paper shows the results of a collaborative project in which four different laboratories have carried out complementary characterization tests on samples of the same set of lignocellulosic biomass materials with the objectives of better understanding their properties and identifying any critical features of the different characterization procedures. Three different types of material were used as model biomasses: 1) Scots pine wood chips, as an example of a coarse and flaky particulate biomass with some elastic properties; 2) chopped straw of reed canary grass as a nesting biomass having long and flaky fibers; and 3) Scots pine wood powder as a fine particulate with elastic and cohesive properties. Particle size and shape analyses were carried out with; calipers, 2D image analysis, 3D image analysis (ScanChip) and through mechanical sieving. Applications and validity limits of each of these techniques are evaluated and discussed. The flowfunction and internal friction were determined with a Schulze ring shear tester, a Brookfield powder flow tester and a large ring shear tester. No significant differences in the results generated by these shear testing techniques were found. Wall friction measurements were carried out with a Schulze ring shear tester; a Brookfield powder flow tester; a large Jenike shear tester and a Casagrande shear box. Results, in this case, showed significant differences with a higher wall friction coefficient obtained with the larger shear cell. Additionally, tensile strengths of biomass materials were measured by the use of a novel measurement technique. Arching tests were carried out in a pilot scale plane silo with variable hopper geometry and results were compared with those predicted by applying the Jenike procedure and a modified procedure which assumed that tensile strength was the controllingmaterial property (rather than unconfined yield strength). Finally, safety of handling and storage was assessed by carrying out explosion tests on dusts from Scots pine and reed canary grass.


Lignocellulosic biomass; Particle size; Particle shape; Flowability; Arching; Explosion

Published in

Fuel Processing Technology
2015, Volume: 138, pages: 540-554