Dynamic simulation of disintegration of wood chips caused by impact and collisions during the steam explosion pretreatment
Journal article, 2017
Steam explosion (SE) pretreatment produces damaged and disintegrated biomass with a large surface area which facilitates enzymatic hydrolysis for the production of biofuels and other value-added chemicals. It was observed during experiments that wood chips disintegrate into smaller pieces because of collisions and impact with each other and the walls of the SE equipment. In this study, these events were simulated using the finite element method. Wood chips were simulated in this model as a linear elastic material until failure. The damage initiation was identified using Hashin’s damage initiation criteria. Once the damage was initiated, additional loading caused the evolution of damage, i.e. degradation and breakage of the material, which was modelled using the material property degradation model and deletion of the failed elements. Elastic and strength properties of spruce wood were estimated at ambient conditions (12 % moisture content at 20 °C) and at SE conditions (30 % moisture content at 160 °C). Comparison of simulations performed using material properties at ambient and SE conditions revealed that the damage in wood chips significantly increased because of the steam treatment. The effects of wood chip velocity and orientation at the time of impact were studied as well. It was found that wood chips moving at high velocity and impacting with the steel wall in the radial direction acquire the most damage. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.