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Chementator Briefs

By Edited by Gerald Ondrey |

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Biomass

Corn stover is among the major feedstocks for biorefineries, and can be converted to bioethanol. When corn stover contains moisture above certain levels, it can clog conveyers and chutes during processing, leading to operational problems and process stoppages. To eliminate moisture-related stoppages at biorefineries, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, N.M.; www.lanl.gov) collaborated with bulk-solids-handling engineers at Jenike & Johanson (Tyngsboro, Mass.; www.jenike.com) to develop Smart Transfer Chutes. The biomass-handling chutes are outfitted with acoustic moisture sensors for continuous, realtime monitoring of corn stover moisture levels. The acoustic moisture sensors work by directing soundwaves through the corn stover as it is being processed. If moisture contents exceed those that are known to cause stoppages, it sends a signal to a computer, which engages a track change on the conveyor belt, redirecting it to be further dried. The system improves the operational efficiency of biomass processing and helps improve the cost-effectiveness of biofuels, the researchers say.

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