The U.S. is sustainably producing of over 1 billion dry tons of biomass annually. This amount of biomass is sufficient to produce bioenergy that can replace about 30 percent of the nation’s current annual consumption of conventional fossil fuels. This then gives us the opportunity to turn waste into bioenergy that can assist in meeting the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Besides being converted into bioethanol through the biochemical platform, biomass can also be utilized solid fuels to generate bioenergy through the thermochemical platform. Co-firing power plants use torrefied biomass pellets combined with coal for electricity generation. A two-step process, torrefaction followed by pelleting, is the prevailing technique that the industry is currently using to produce torrefied biomass pellets. Torrefaction converts biomass into biochar with high heating value, and pelleting densifies torrefied biochar into pellets with high durability and density. For the same purpose, we developed the ultrasonic pelleting and synchronized torrefaction of cellulosic biomass process, which is a single-step process to generate high quality solid fuel pellets with high heating value together with good durability and density. This study reports the first experimental investigation to demonstrate the feasibility of the novel process. Key process parameters have been identified, and their effects on the feasibility of generating quality torrefied biomass pellets are reported. Pellets are evaluated from the aspects of feasibility, durability, heating value, and thermal stability.

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