Biomass pyrolysis devolatilization kinetics of herbaceous and woody feedstocks

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Peterson, Chad A.
Hornbuckle, Malachi K.
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Mechanical Engineering
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University is where innovation thrives and the impossible is made possible. This is where your passion for problem-solving and hands-on learning can make a real difference in our world. Whether you’re helping improve the environment, creating safer automobiles, or advancing medical technologies, and athletic performance, the Department of Mechanical Engineering gives you the tools and talent to blaze your own trail to an amazing career.
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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Chemical and Biological Engineering

The function of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has been to prepare students for the study and application of chemistry in industry. This focus has included preparation for employment in various industries as well as the development, design, and operation of equipment and processes within industry.Through the CBE Department, Iowa State University is nationally recognized for its initiatives in bioinformatics, biomaterials, bioproducts, metabolic/tissue engineering, multiphase computational fluid dynamics, advanced polymeric materials and nanostructured materials.

The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1913 under the Department of Physics and Illuminating Engineering. From 1915 to 1931 it was jointly administered by the Divisions of Industrial Science and Engineering, and from 1931 onward it has been under the Division/College of Engineering. In 1928 it merged with Mining Engineering, and from 1973–1979 it merged with Nuclear Engineering. It became Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2005.

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1913 - present

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  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1913–1928)
  • Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering (1928–1957)
  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1957–1973, 1979–2005)
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Bioeconomy Institute
The Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State University leads the nation and world in establishing the bioeconomy, where society obtains renewable fuel, energy, chemicals, and materials from agricultural sources. The institute seeks to advance the use of biorenewable resources for the production of fuels, energy, chemicals, and materials. The Institute will assure Iowa’s prominence in the revolution that is changing the way society obtains its essential sources of energy and carbon. This revolution will dramatically reduce our dependence on petroleum. Instead of fossil sources of carbon and energy, the bioeconomy will use biomass (including lignocellulose, starches, oils and proteins) as a renewable resource to sustain economic growth and prosperity. Agriculture will supply renewable energy and carbon to the bioeconomy while engineering will transform these resources into transportation fuels, commodity chemicals, and electric power. This transformation, however, must be done in a manner that meets our present needs without compromising those of future generations.
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Devolatilization kinetics were determined using a modified micropyrolyzer reactor for several biomass feedstocks: switchgrass, corn stover, red oak, and pine. The micropyrolyzer was directly coupled to a flame ionization detector (FID) to track the release of volatiles from the biomass. Time series data from these experiments was analyzed to determine apparent devolatilization rates. Care was taken to assure the experiments were isothermal and kinetically limited calculating a Biot number less than 0.1 and pyrolysis numbers greater than 10, which simplifies the derivation of devolatilization rates. A single, first order reaction was able to model devolatilization rates at temperatures up to 500 °C. No correlation was found between the inorganic content of the biomass and its rate of devolatilization. Apparent activation energies were in the range of 54.9–88.4 kJ mol−1. The rate coefficient at 500 °C was calculated as 1.90–5.14 s−1 for the four feedstocks.
This is a manuscript of an article published as Peterson, Chad A., Malachi K. Hornbuckle, and Robert C. Brown. "Biomass pyrolysis devolatilization kinetics of herbaceous and woody feedstocks." Fuel Processing Technology 226 (2022): 107068. DOI: 10.1016/j.fuproc.2021.107068. Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Posted with permission.
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