Inducing plasma in biomass could make biogas easier to produce

September 22, 2020

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2020 -- Producing biogas from the bacterial breakdown of biomass presents options for a greener energy future, but the complex composition of biomass comes with a long list of challenges.

Cellulose and woody lignocellulose in biomass are especially hard for bacteria to digest, making the process inefficient. Chemical, physical, or mechanical processes, or several of them combined, can be used for pretreatment to make biomass easier to digest, but many of the current solutions are expensive or inefficient or rely on corrosive chemicals.

In research supported by the European Regional Development Fund, published in AIP Advances, by AIP Publishing, researchers at the Leibniz Institute of Plasma Science and Technology are testing plasma formation in biomass and finding a promising method for pretreatment of biomass.

"The plasma can be seen as a reactive gas, which contains populations of particles that contain several electron volts of kinetic energy. This energy can be used to break the bond of the chemicals and break the bonds of molecules with which they interact," author Bruno Honnorat said.

"The most surprising thing was to be able to obtain plasma discharge conditions in a moving liquid. The presence of a flow considerably complicates the situation compared to all the other experimental setups studied in the literature."

The work involves creation of a reactor in which 2-kilowatt microwave pulses injected into a moving liquid model induce plasma formation within one millisecond. The totality of the microwave power is concentrated to a small cavity, containing less than 1 milliliter of liquid, which is heated, vaporized, and finally ignited, forming an expanding plasma bubble.

The plasma-liquid interaction forms reactive species, including oxidizing agents, such as hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxides, that help break down the biomass and decrease the viscosity, or resistance to flow, of the biomass material. In partnership with an industrial agriculture partner, the process will be further tested at full scale in a biogas plant.

The authors plan to continue their work by more closely examining whether the plasma breaks the polymer chain and investigating plasma-bubble dynamics to evaluate the size and shape evolution, lifetime, and pressure of bubbles in the plasma to better understand the reactive species created in the plasma.

Their work could be used for increasing biogas production, improving the efficiency of microwave-plasma-liquid interactions, and functionalizing and modifying polymer length in polymer science.
-end-
The article, "Microwave plasma discharges for biomass pretreatment: Degradation of a sodium carboxymethyl cellulose model," is authored by B. Honnorat, V. Brüser, and J.F. Kolb. The article will appear in AIP Advances on Sept. 22, 2020 (DOI: 10.1063/5.0018626). After that date, it can be accessed at https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/5.0018626.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

AIP Advances is an open access journal publishing in all areas of physical sciences--applied, theoretical, and experimental. The inclusive scope of AIP Advances makes it an essential outlet for scientists across the physical sciences. See https://aip.scitation.org/journal/adv.

American Institute of Physics

Related Biomass Articles from Brightsurf:

Bound for the EU, American-made biomass checks the right boxes
A first-of-its-kind study published in the journal Scientific Reports finds that wood produced in the southeastern United States for the EU's renewable energy needs has a net positive effect on US forests--but that future industry expansion could warrant more research.

The highest heat-resistant plastic ever is developed from biomass
The use of biomass-derived plastics is one of the prime concerns to establish a sustainable society, which is incorporated as one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Laser technology measures biomass in world's largest trees
Laser technology has been used to measure the volume and biomass of giant Californian redwood trees for the first time, records a new study by UCL researchers.

Inducing plasma in biomass could make biogas easier to produce
Producing biogas from the bacterial breakdown of biomass presents options for a greener energy future, but the complex composition of biomass comes with challenges.

Microbes working together multiply biomass conversion possibilities
Non-edible plants are a promising alternative to crude oil, but their heterogenous composition can be a challenge to producing high yields of useful products.

Evergreen idea turns biomass DNA into degradable materials
A Cornell-led collaboration is turning DNA from organic matter -- such as onions, fish and algae -- into biodegradable gels and plastics.

Upgrading biomass with selective surface-modified catalysts
Loading single platinum atoms on titanium dioxide promotes the conversion of a plant derivative into a potential biofuel.

A novel biofuel system for hydrogen production from biomass
A recent study, affiliated with South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has presented a new biofuel system that uses lignin found in biomass for the production of hydrogen.

Biomass fuels can significantly mitigate global warming
'Every crop we tested had a very significant mitigation capacity despite being grown on very different soils and under natural climate variability,' says Dr.

Traditional biomass stoves shown to cause lung inflammation
Traditional stoves that burn biomass materials and are not properly ventilated, which are widely used in developing nations where cooking is done indoors, have been shown to significantly increase indoor levels of harmful PM2.5 (miniscule atmospheric particulates) and carbon monoxide (CO) and to stimulate biological processes that cause lung inflammation and may lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to new research published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Read More: Biomass News and Biomass Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.