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Reliable Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing

Stage: Prototype

Opportunity: Idaho National Laboratory (INL), managed and operated by Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (BEA), is offering the opportunity to enter into a license and/or collaborative research agreement to commercialize the Reliable Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing technology.

INL is seeking to license the above intellectual property to a company with a demonstrated ability to bring such inventions to the market. Exclusive rights in defined fields of use may be available.

Please visit Technology Deployment’s website at https://inl.gov/inl-initiatives/technology-deployment for more information on working with INL and the industrial partnering and technology transfer process.

Companies interested in learning more about this licensing opportunity should contact Ryan Bills at ryan.bills@inl.gov.

Background: Biomass feedstock preprocessing through comminution is an essential first step in the production of biofuel and other biproducts. Conventional preprocessing methods suffer from several issues impacting system throughput, product quality, and plant reliability. Facilities that implement constant control parameters produce suboptimal material quality at reduced system efficiency. These processes have low throughput, frequent plugging, and lack process control. The final product composition and particle size often do not meet specifications for downstream processing. Reliability is low with high maintenance requirements and low on-stream time. Chemical, physical and mechanical variability in feedstocks require dynamic preprocessing control systems in order to maximize plant throughput. A new preprocessing system is needed to solve these challenging biomass process, handling and feeding issues for biofuel and other biomaterial producers.

Description: Researchers at INL and Virginia Commonwealth University have developed a new Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing system based on a data-driven decision support for preprocessing. This state-of-the-art control system includes software and hardware controls. Hardware controls utilize limit switches and interlocks to stop operation when the switch or interlock is activated. Software controls monitor system health indicators and compares these indicators to established thresholds. If indicators exceed threshold parameters, indicative of a fault or overload condition, software controls automatically adjust process conditions, such as feed rate, to bring the system back into normal operating conditions.

Applications and Industries

The application of this system is the processing of heterogeneous raw bulk solid feedstocks (e.g. lignocellulosic biomass, municipal solid waste, etc.) for the production of fuels, chemicals, and bioproducts. Interested parties could include second-generation biofuels plants, pellet mills, and potentially municipal solid waste sorting facilities.


Advantages: There are two main advantages of this system. It provides improved reliability by maintaining throughput and preventing plugging, and it improves quality by producing a consistent product despite variable infeed. This system solves many of the throughput, quality and reliability issues presented earlier. It has high flowability and throughput with advanced process control. The feedstock can be processed to meet downstream specifications for biomass upgrading. It also requires low maintenance, produces high on-stream time, and is highly reliable.

Impact: This system has the potential to significantly impact the reliability and efficiency of any biomass feedstock processing plant. Experiments at INL’s pilot scale Process Development Unit have demonstrated an improvement in reliability of a two-stage grinding system from about 63% using conventional control to 96% reliability using INL’s system.


BA-965 Tech ...t.pdf

Dec 17, 2019