Exploring Canadian Biomass for Biofuel

Characterization of Canadian Biomass for Alternative Renewable Biofuel

Satyanarayan Naika, Vaibhav V. Gouda, Prasant K. Routa, Kathlene Jacobsona and Ajay K. Dalai

Renewable Energy
Volume 35, Issue 8, August 2010, Pages 1624-1631

Global interest in alternative renewable energy sources have sparked many countries to do their own research to characterize their own biomass for biofuel production. For massive biofuel production, it is extremely important to characterize all the available biomass beforehand in order to make complete use out of it. The world biomass offers 220 billion oven-dry ton, or equivalent of 4500 x 10^8 J per year.

In this study, the researchers studied biomass available in Canada for production of alternative renewable biofuels.  They sampled biomass such as wheat straw, barley straw, flax straw, timothy grass and pinewood from Saskatoon, Canada and characterized them, both physically and chemically, through various measurements such as static bomb calorimeter, XRD, TGA, ICP-MS, CHNSO, FT-IR, and FT-NIR.

The samples were first extracted in a three step process( through hexane, alcohol, and water) and then later acid hydrolyzed.  The acid soluble fractions were analyzed by HPLC and the insoluble fraction was characterized by FT-IR for lignin content.

The results showed pinewood to have the lowest lignin content.  This is because the most of the hexane was soluble due to terpene hydrocarbons. On the other hand, barley straw was shown to have the highest lignin, ash, and wax content. Overall, wheat, pinewood, and flax was shown to have the greatest calorific value and also as great potentials for biofuel production.

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