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Mechanical Dewatering Technologies for Wet Biomass Feedstocks

Read the complete report: Mechanical Dewatering Technolgies for Wet Biomass
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About This Report

Many wet biomass feedstocks generally have low value due to the high cost of thermally removing water to make use of the lignocellulosic material contained therein. There are mechanical technologies that can potentially remove water in a cost effective manner, which would help raise the value of these materials by opening markets for combustion or gasification of the feedstocks, new livestock feed opportunities, slow release fertilizer or using the feedstocks as ground covers. At a minimum, producers or processors using a dryer feedstock for feed or land application would be trucking more material and less water.

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), along with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, collaborated with PulverDryer USA, Inc., to evaluate the performance of their HydroPress technology for dewatering agricultural coproducts.

Dewatering research obtained continues to support the work of the AURI Drying Initiative, which was started in 2009. The goal of this research is to continue to identify potential thermal and mechanical drying technologies that may represent an efficiency improvement over current methods of drying currently being utilized by industry.

A special thanks goes to American Crystal Sugar, which provided approximately 200 pounds of sugar beet tailings and 200 pounds of sugar beet pulp to PulverDryer USA to conduct the dewatering trials.

Project Outcomes

The goal of this initiative was to identify technology transfer opportunities to improve the economics of drying high moisture feedstocks.  Initial trails conducted using the HydroPress technology provided by PulverDryer USA, Inc. appears to be an efficient method of feasibly dewatering sugar beet tailings and sugar beet pulp.  This assumption is due to the 58.9% liquid extraction observed in the wet sugar beet tailings and the 44.8% liquid extraction observed in the wet sugar beet pulp.  Although the remaining products still contained 70.5% and 79.2% moisture respectively; the majority of the moisture was removed utilizing mechanical methods.

PulverDryer USA, Inc. claims an operational cost of $6 per wet ton; this is comprised of a $1.50 to $2.25 per wet ton processing cost.

Dewatering technologies may offer an efficient companion technology to thermal drying thus increasing the market opportunities for wet biomass feedstocks.

Alan Doering
Senior Associate Scientist – Coproducts