The use of supercritical fluids to process biomass for fuel
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Soybean flakes were extracted using supercritical carbon dioxide at 48.3 MPa and 80 °C, which is a higher temperature than previously reported. Several operational parameters were explored to determine their effect on extractions. Flakes, as typically used in this industry, provided the best extraction performance. Particle size distributions were created through grinding. Reducing average particle diameters smaller than 0.069 mm had no appreciable effect on increasing extraction efficiencies. Exploration of flow rate indicated that a residence time of less than 60 s for the scCO2 would be sufficient for complete extractions. A solvent mass to load mass ratio of 10:1 was found to be sufficient for extraction of oils from soybean flakes. Increasing moisture in the soybeans led to decreasing extraction efficiency of oils. Finally, soybean hulls had no effect on extraction efficiency. Thus, the de-hulling procedure can be removed from the extraction process without decreasing extraction efficiency. Supercritical water gasification of primary sewage sludge sampled from a local facility was undertaken at different solids content. The performance of the process was compared with the anaerobic digestion system in use at the facility where the samples were taken. The mass and composition of the vapor products documented showed that the process generates more energy per gram of feed while rapidly destroying more volatile solids relative to the anaerobic digestion process. However, the energy input requirements are greater for supercritical water gasification. This study defines parameters for a model of the gasification reaction using the power law and Arrhenius equation. The activation energy (Ea) was estimated to be 15 kJ/mol, and the reaction order (n) was estimated to be 0.586. This model allows estimation of the size of a supercritical water reactor needed to replace the anaerobic digesters that are currently used at the wastewater treatment plant.
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