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Commercial plants that process bulk solids typically operate at a fraction of design capacity during their first year. One of the primary reasons is poor feed handling. A single feed handling problem—ranging from plugged augers to broken equipment—may bring the plant to a standstill until the problem is resolved. BFNUF’s primary capability, the Process Development Unit (PDU), is a full-size, fully-integrated feedstock preprocessing system. The PDU allows industry partners to test a variety of grinding, drying, pelletizing, cubing, torrefaction, and mechanical and chemical separation options during design and scale-up of bioenergy facilities.  The PDU analyzes various methods of feedstock operations and preprocessing prior to conversion. ​​In each case, tight tolerances on the particle-size distribution and precise preprocessing conditions is required. The conversion pathways may consist of: 

  • ​Biochemical conversion pathways generally prefer herbaceous or hardwood biomass milled to intermediate mean particle sizes typically ranging from 6-50 mm​​ Pyrolysis requires a finely milled feedstock, normally less than 2 mm

  • ​​Gasification can have a wide range of particle size specifications depending on the specific gasification technology​

  • ​Combustion via co-firing with coal perfers woody biomass that has been chipped and torrefied folled by fine-milling to produce a fine, coal-like feedstock

Feedstock Development

The BFNUF Feedstock PDU provides access to a range of biomass resources and preprocessing capabilities to produce virtually any feedstock, any specification, at any scale.

Proces​s Development​​

The Feedstock PDU capabilities are grouped into five ca​tegories, with a variety of equipment types and sizes available in each: size reduction, separation/fractionation, thermal treatment, chemical treatment, and densification.

System-Level Solutions​

A unique capability of the Feedstock PDU is to test and develop fully integrated and instrumented industrial-scale preprocessing systems. Continuous processing and data collections enables:

  • Identification of preprocessing bottlenecks

  • Exploration of the interaction and synergies of preprocessing operations affecting feedstock specification and conversion performance

  • Optimization of integrated preprocessing system​