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Special Issue "Wood to Energy"

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A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Dimitris S. Argyropoulos (Website)

Departments of Forest Biomaterials & Chemistry, North Carolina State University, 2820 Faucette Drive, Rm 3104, Raleigh, NC, 27695-8005, USA
Phone: 9195157708
Fax: +1 919 515 6302
Interests: materials; chemicals and energy from forest biomass; organic chemistry of wood components; bio-refining of lignin; cellulose and nano-cellulose based smart materials; NMR spectroscopy and polymer chemistry of biopolymers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Without a doubt, our society’s concerns over increasing fuel prices, green house gas emissions, and the associated global warming have created a tremendous interest in the science and technologies that promise the sustainable production of energy from domestic resources. In this respect, lignocellulosic biomass (wood) has the unique ability to supply it because carbohydrates and lignin are among the most abundant organic compounds on the planet, representing a vast amount of biomass (in the range of hundreds of billions of tons). Our fossil carbon-based energy economy relies on distinctly hydrophobic hydrocarbon molecules that are devoid of oxygen and functional groups. In contrast to hydrocarbons, carbohydrates are highly functionalized and hydrophilic molecules. As such our chemical and energy industry needs to redevelop in a major way if it is to use lignocellulosic biomass as its feedstock. These considerations unambiguously dictate the need for practically oriented scientific research and development covering a wide range of applications for the use of Wood to Energy.
This special issue is focused at bringing together the global expertise from academia, government, and industry with the aim to disseminate their latest findings and to exchange their ideas for the future in the realm of “Wood to Energy”. The present issue will attempt to offer the reader a current view of the issue. Contributors should attempt to provide a good review of the literature, creating a sound foundation for the science to be subsequently developed. The editor anticipates that this issue will provide a resource for new ideas, guidance, and a good embarkation point for any future endeavors in the broad area that is defined by its title “Wood to Energy”.

Prof. Dr. Dimitris S. Argyropoulos
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Pre-treatment
  • Novel Pre-treatment Methods
  • Softwood versus Hardwood Digestibility Issues
  • Cellulose
  • Cellulase enzymes
  • Cellulase inhibition
  • Recalcitrance of wood
  • Novel Methods of Analysis for wood
  • Fermentation towards Bioethanol
  • Byproduct Utilization
  • Lignin Utilization

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle A Comparison of Producer Gas, Biochar, and Activated Carbon from Two Distributed Scale Thermochemical Conversion Systems Used to Process Forest Biomass
Energies 2013, 6(1), 164-183; doi:10.3390/en6010164
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 20 December 2012 / Accepted: 2 January 2013 / Published: 8 January 2013
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (853 KB) | XML Full-text
Abstract
Thermochemical biomass conversion systems have the potential to produce heat, power, fuels and other products from forest biomass at distributed scales that meet the needs of some forest industry facilities. However, many of these systems have not been deployed in this sector [...] Read more.
Thermochemical biomass conversion systems have the potential to produce heat, power, fuels and other products from forest biomass at distributed scales that meet the needs of some forest industry facilities. However, many of these systems have not been deployed in this sector and the products they produce from forest biomass have not been adequately described or characterized with regards to chemical properties, possible uses, and markets. This paper characterizes the producer gas, biochar, and activated carbon of a 700 kg h−1 prototype gasification system and a 225 kg h−1 pyrolysis system used to process coniferous sawmill and forest residues. Producer gas from sawmill residues processed with the gasifier had higher energy content than gas from forest residues, with averages of 12.4 MJ m−3 and 9.8 MJ m−3, respectively. Gases from the pyrolysis system averaged 1.3 MJ m−3 for mill residues and 2.5 MJ m−3 for forest residues. Biochars produced have similar particle size distributions and bulk density, but vary in pH and carbon content. Biochars from both systems were successfully activated using steam activation, with resulting BET surface area in the range of commercial activated carbon. Results are discussed in the context of co-locating these systems with forest industry operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Chemical Profiles of Wood Components of Poplar Clones for Their Energy Utilization
Energies 2012, 5(12), 5243-5256; doi:10.3390/en5125243
Received: 30 August 2012 / Revised: 26 November 2012 / Accepted: 7 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (219 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Selected and tested poplar clones are very suitable biomass resources for various applications such as biofuels, the pulp and paper industry as well as chemicals production. In this study, we determined the content of lignin, cellulose, holocellulose, and extractives, syringyl to guaiacyl [...] Read more.
Selected and tested poplar clones are very suitable biomass resources for various applications such as biofuels, the pulp and paper industry as well as chemicals production. In this study, we determined the content of lignin, cellulose, holocellulose, and extractives, syringyl to guaiacyl (S/G) ratio in lignin, and also calculated higher heating values (HHV) among eight examined clones of Populus grown on three different experimental sites. The highest lignin content for all the examined sites was determined in ‘I-214’ and ‘Baka 5’ clones, whereas the highest content of extractives was found in ‘Villafranca’ and ‘Baka 5’ clones. The highest S/G ratio for all the examined sites was determined in ‘Villafranca’ and ‘Agathe F’ clones. The chemical profiles of main wood components, extractives, and the S/G ratio in lignin were also influenced by both the experimental site and the clone × site interaction. Higher heating values, derived from calculations based on the contents of lignin and extractives (or lignin only), were in close agreement with the previously published data. The highest heating values were found for ‘Baka 5’ and ‘I-214’ clones. The optimal method of poplar biomass utilization can be chosen on basis of the lignocellulosics chemical composition and the S/G ratio in lignin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Modeling Woody Biomass Procurement for Bioenergy Production at the Atikokan Generating Station in Northwestern Ontario, Canada
Energies 2012, 5(12), 5065-5085; doi:10.3390/en5125065
Received: 6 August 2012 / Revised: 15 November 2012 / Accepted: 23 November 2012 / Published: 3 December 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1749 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Efficient procurement and utilization of woody biomass for bioenergy production requires a good understanding of biomass supply chains. In this paper, a dynamic optimization model has been developed and applied to estimate monthly supply and procurement costs of woody biomass required for [...] Read more.
Efficient procurement and utilization of woody biomass for bioenergy production requires a good understanding of biomass supply chains. In this paper, a dynamic optimization model has been developed and applied to estimate monthly supply and procurement costs of woody biomass required for the Atikokan Generating Station (AGS) in northwestern Ontario, based on its monthly electricity production schedule. The decision variables in the model are monthly harvest levels of two types of woody biomass, forest harvest residues and unutilized biomass, from 19,315 forest depletion cells (each 1 km2) for a one year planning horizon. Sixteen scenarios are tested to examine the sensitivity of the cost minimization model to changing economic and technological parameters. Reduction in moisture content and improvement of conversion efficiency showed relatively higher reductions in monthly and total costs of woody biomass feedstock for the AGS. The results of this study help in understanding and designing decision support systems for optimal biomass supply chains under dynamic operational frameworks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Degradation Characteristics of Wood Using Supercritical Alcohols
Energies 2012, 5(12), 5038-5052; doi:10.3390/en5125038
Received: 24 September 2012 / Revised: 20 November 2012 / Accepted: 20 November 2012 / Published: 27 November 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (255 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this work, the characteristics of wood degradation using supercritical alcohols have been studied. Supercritical ethanol and supercritical methanol were used as solvents. The kinetics of wood degradation were analyzed using the nonisothermal weight loss technique with heating rates of 3.1, 9.8, [...] Read more.
In this work, the characteristics of wood degradation using supercritical alcohols have been studied. Supercritical ethanol and supercritical methanol were used as solvents. The kinetics of wood degradation were analyzed using the nonisothermal weight loss technique with heating rates of 3.1, 9.8, and 14.5 °C/min for ethanol and 5.2, 11.3, and 16.3 °C/min for methanol. Three different kinetic analysis methods were implemented to obtain the apparent activation energy and the overall reaction order for wood degradation using supercritical alcohols. These were used to compare with previous data for supercritical methanol. From this work, the activation energies of wood degradation in supercritical ethanol were obtained as 78.0–86.0, 40.1–48.1, and 114 kJ/mol for the different kinetic analysis methods used in this work. The activation energies of wood degradation in supercritical ethanol were obtained as 78.0–86.0, 40.1–48.1, and 114 kJ/mol. This paper also includes the analysis of the liquid products obtained from this work. The characteristic analysis of liquid products on increasing reaction temperature and time has been performed by GC-MS. The liquid products were categorized according to carbon numbers and aromatic/aliphatic components. It was found that higher conversion in supercritical ethanol occurs at a lower temperature than that of supercritical methanol. The product analysis shows that the majority of products fall in the 2 to 15 carbon number range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability Impact Assessment on the Production and Use of Different Wood and Fossil Fuels Employed for Energy Production in North Karelia, Finland
Energies 2012, 5(11), 4870-4891; doi:10.3390/en5114870
Received: 6 September 2012 / Revised: 2 November 2012 / Accepted: 13 November 2012 / Published: 21 November 2012
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (605 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The utilization rate of woody biomass in eastern Finland is high and expected to increase further in the near future as set out in several regional, national and European policies and strategies. The aim of this study was to assess the sustainability [...] Read more.
The utilization rate of woody biomass in eastern Finland is high and expected to increase further in the near future as set out in several regional, national and European policies and strategies. The aim of this study was to assess the sustainability impacts of changes in fuel consumption patterns. We investigated fossil and woody biomass-based energy production chains in the region of North Karelia, focusing on some economic, environmental and social indicators. Indicators were selected based on stakeholder preferences and evaluated using the Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment (ToSIA). The analysis was based on representative values from National Forest Inventory data, scientific publications, national and regional statistics, databases, published policy targets and expert opinion. From the results it became evident that shifting from fossil to wood-based energy production implies some trade-offs. Replacing oil with woody biomass in energy production would increase the local value added remaining in the region, create employment opportunities and would reduce total GHG emissions. However, firewood, wood chips from small-diameter trees from early thinning and wood pellets have high production costs. Moreover, large greenhouse gas emission resulted from wood pellet production. The case study generated valuable reference data for future sustainability assessments and demonstrated the usefulness of ToSIA as a tool presenting existing knowledge on sustainability impacts of alternative energy supply chains to inform decision making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Regulatory Promotion of Waste Wood Reused as an Energy Source and the Environmental Concerns about Ash Residue in the Industrial Sector of Taiwan
Energies 2012, 5(11), 4390-4398; doi:10.3390/en5114390
Received: 11 September 2012 / Revised: 21 October 2012 / Accepted: 23 October 2012 / Published: 2 November 2012
PDF Full-text (200 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this paper was to provide a preliminary analysis of the utilization of energy derived from waste wood in Taiwan, a highly industrialized country with a high dependence (over 99%) on imported energy. The discussion focuses on the status of [...] Read more.
The objective of this paper was to provide a preliminary analysis of the utilization of energy derived from waste wood in Taiwan, a highly industrialized country with a high dependence (over 99%) on imported energy. The discussion focuses on the status of waste wood generation and its management over the past decade. Findings show that the quantities of biomass waste collected for reuse purposes in the industrial sectors of Taiwan has exhibited an increasing trend, from about 4000 tons in 2001 to over 52,000 tons in 2010. Although waste wood can be reused as a fuel and raw material for a variety of applications based on regulatory promotion, the most commonly used end use is to directly utilize it as an auxiliary fuel in industrial utilities (e.g., boilers, heaters and furnaces) for the purpose of co-firing with coal/fuel oil. The most progressive measure for promoting biomass-to-power is to introduce the feed-in tariff (FIT) mechanism according to the Renewable Energy Development Act passed in June 2009. The financial support for biomass power generation has been increasing over the years from 0.070 US$/kWh in 2010 to 0.094 US$/kWh in 2012. On the other hand, the environmental regulations in Taiwan regarding the hazard identification of wood-combusted ash (especially in filter fly-ash) and its options for disposal and utilization are further discussed in the paper, suggesting that waste wood impregnated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) and other copper-based preservatives should be excluded from the wood-to-energy system. Finally, some recommendations for promoting wood-to-energy in the near future of Taiwan are addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessArticle Characterization of Woodchips for Energy from Forestry and Agroforestry Production
Energies 2012, 5(10), 3803-3816; doi:10.3390/en5103803
Received: 21 August 2012 / Revised: 18 September 2012 / Accepted: 18 September 2012 / Published: 27 September 2012
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (165 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We set out to determine the particle-size distribution, the fiber, the bark and the leaves content, the heating value, the CNH and the ash content of a wide sample of wood chips, collected from 10 forestry and 10 agroforestry production sources. This [...] Read more.
We set out to determine the particle-size distribution, the fiber, the bark and the leaves content, the heating value, the CNH and the ash content of a wide sample of wood chips, collected from 10 forestry and 10 agroforestry production sources. This sampling focused on two main production types: forestry (Full Tree System—FTS—and logging residues—LR) and agroforestry (Short Rotation Coppice—SRC). For the forestry production wood chips from coniferous and broadleaf species were considered. For the agroforestry production wood chips from poplar plantations were examined (different clones with two different harvesting intervals). Overall, we collected 400 samples. Particle size distribution was determined with an automatic screening device on 200 samples. The higher heating value was determined on 200 subsamples using an adiabatic bomb calorimeter. The CNH and the ash content was ascertained on another 200 subsamples. FTS and SRC (with three year old sprouts) offered the best quality, with high fiber content (71%–80%), favorable particle-size distribution and good energetic parameters. On the contrary, both logging residues and SRC (with two year old sprouts) presented a high bark content (18%–27%) and occasionally a mediocre particle-size distribution, being often too rich in fines (6%–12%), but the energetic parameters are in the normal range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)

Review

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Open AccessReview Commercial Biomass Syngas Fermentation
Energies 2012, 5(12), 5372-5417; doi:10.3390/en5125372
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 31 October 2012 / Accepted: 5 December 2012 / Published: 19 December 2012
Cited by 70 | PDF Full-text (604 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The use of gas fermentation for the production of low carbon biofuels such as ethanol or butanol from lignocellulosic biomass is an area currently undergoing intensive research and development, with the first commercial units expected to commence operation in the near future. [...] Read more.
The use of gas fermentation for the production of low carbon biofuels such as ethanol or butanol from lignocellulosic biomass is an area currently undergoing intensive research and development, with the first commercial units expected to commence operation in the near future. In this process, biomass is first converted into carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)-rich synthesis gas (syngas) via gasification, and subsequently fermented to hydrocarbons by acetogenic bacteria. Several studies have been performed over the last few years to optimise both biomass gasification and syngas fermentation with significant progress being reported in both areas. While challenges associated with the scale-up and operation of this novel process remain, this strategy offers numerous advantages compared with established fermentation and purely thermochemical approaches to biofuel production in terms of feedstock flexibility and production cost. In recent times, metabolic engineering and synthetic biology techniques have been applied to gas fermenting organisms, paving the way for gases to be used as the feedstock for the commercial production of increasingly energy dense fuels and more valuable chemicals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessReview Ash Deposition in Biomass Combustion or Co-Firing for Power/Heat Generation
Energies 2012, 5(12), 5171-5189; doi:10.3390/en5125171
Received: 6 October 2012 / Revised: 18 November 2012 / Accepted: 23 November 2012 / Published: 7 December 2012
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (729 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents a concise overview of ash deposition in combustion or co-firing of biomass (woody biomass, agricultural residues, peat, etc.) with other fuels for power/heat generation. In this article, the following five research aspects on biomass combustion ash deposition are [...] Read more.
This paper presents a concise overview of ash deposition in combustion or co-firing of biomass (woody biomass, agricultural residues, peat, etc.) with other fuels for power/heat generation. In this article, the following five research aspects on biomass combustion ash deposition are reviewed and discussed: influence of biomass fuel characteristics, deposit-related challenges, ash deposition monitoring and analysis of ash deposits, mechanisms and chemistry of fly ash deposition, and key technologies for reducing ash deposition and corrosion in biomass-involved combustion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)
Open AccessReview Alternative Technologies for Biofuels Production in Kraft Pulp Mills—Potential and Prospects
Energies 2012, 5(7), 2288-2309; doi:10.3390/en5072288
Received: 22 May 2012 / Revised: 21 June 2012 / Accepted: 2 July 2012 / Published: 6 July 2012
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (536 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The current global conditions provide the pulp mill new opportunities beyond the traditional production of cellulose. Due to stricter environmental regulations, volatility of oil price, energy policies and also the global competitiveness, the challenges for the pulp industry are many. They range [...] Read more.
The current global conditions provide the pulp mill new opportunities beyond the traditional production of cellulose. Due to stricter environmental regulations, volatility of oil price, energy policies and also the global competitiveness, the challenges for the pulp industry are many. They range from replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources to the export of biofuels, chemicals and biomaterials through the implementation of biorefineries. In spite of the enhanced maturity of various bio and thermo-chemical conversion processes, the economic viability becomes an impediment when considering the effective implementation on an industrial scale. In the case of kraft pulp mills, favorable conditions for biofuels production can be created due to the availability of wood residues and generation of black liquor. The objective of this article is to give an overview of the technologies related to the production of alternative biofuels in the kraft pulp mills and discuss their potential and prospects in the present and future scenario. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wood to Energy)

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