Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (MSBiosyAgE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture; Engineering

Department

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Montross

Abstract

Transportation costs represent a significant role in the economics of packaged hay and biomass crops. The material’s low bulk density limits transportation efficiency. Density is currently limited by the ability of the baling twine to withstand the expansion forces generated by the baled material shortly after it is ejected from the bale chamber. It was hypothesized that compromising the structure of the plant, particularly the plant nodes could reduce the amount of energy stored in the material as it is compressed and thereby reduce the material’s elastic response to compression. Literature pertinent to the biomass material’s behavior in compression was reviewed. Bulk samples of switchgrass and miscanthus were subject to uniaxial compression, and the required pressure needed to obtain a target density of 256 kg/m3 was compared on a wet and dry density basis. Both switchgrass and miscanthus showed a statistically significant decrease in the required compression pressure, and the interaction between the moisture level and required pressure was also significant. Existing models for the pressure density relationship of compressed bulk material were evaluated for suitability. Individual nodes and internode sections were subject to radial compression and the apparent modulus of elasticity and maximum contact stress were determined.

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