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Experimental and Techno-economic Studies of Pipeline Hydro-transport of Agricultural Residue Biomass to a Biorefinery Open Access


Other title
Techno-economic Analysis
Agricultural Residue Biomass
Pipeline Hydrotransport
Pressure Drop Measurement
Pump Performance Evaluation
Empirical Pressure Drop Correlation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Vaezi, Mahdi
Supervisor and department
Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Ghaemi, Sina (Mechanical Engineering)
Gupta, Rajender (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Lipsett, Mike (Mechanical Engineering)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Pipeline hydro-transport of agricultural residue biomass to bio-based energy facilities, e.g. a bio-refinery, is considered to be a more economically favorable method than truck delivery. Pipeline hydro-transport not only benefits from economy of scale, but also reduces the environmental and traffic congestion issues compared to truck delivery. In this research, a 25 m closed-circuit lab-scale pipeline facility was designed and fabricated to experimentally investigate pipeline hydro-transport of knife-milled and pre-classified wheat straw and corn stover agricultural residues. Agricultural residue particle-water mixtures (or slurries) were prepared over a wide range of particle size, slurry solid mass content, and slurry bulk velocity, and were pumped into the closed-circuit. Several morphological and mechanical parameters were measured prior to and during pipelining agricultural residue particles through the pipeline. The main objectives of the research were to (1) study the particle size, particle size distribution, and morphological features of agricultural residue biomass; (2) study the technical feasibility of replacing truck with pipeline in agricultural residue biomass delivery; (3) experimentally investigate friction loss and rheological behaviors of agricultural residue biomass slurry through a pipeline at various slurry solid mass content, slurry bulk velocity, and agricultural residue biomass particles types and sizes; (4) develop an empirical correlation to predict the agricultural residue biomass slurry pressure drop across the pipeline; (5) evaluate the performance of centrifugal slurry pumps handling agricultural residue biomass slurry; and finally (6) conduct a series of techno-economic analyses on pipeline hydro-transport of agricultural residue biomass. Based on the results obtained in the study, agricultural residue biomass particles studied here were found to be fibrous in nature, and the slurry of fibrous agricultural residue biomass particles exhibited unique drag-reduction characteristics for more concentrated slurries at elevated velocities. In addition, the proposed empirical correlation was found capable of precisely predicting the longitudinal pressure gradient of the flow of agricultural residue biomass slurry in pipes, and the efficiency of the pump handling small (<3.2 mm) wheat straw particles was found to be more than the efficiency of the same pump handling pure water only. Finally, all the pipelines hydraulically transporting agricultural residue biomass with capacities of 1.0 M dry t/yr and more were found to have lower fixed and incremental costs compared to alternatives of hauling by truck. The results obtained here would help in optimizing the design and operation of commercial agricultural residue biomass pipeline hydro-transport processes and the development of large-scale bio-based energy facilities.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Vaezi, M., Pandey, V., Kumar, A., and Bhattacharyya, S., ″Lignocellulosic biomass particle shape and size distribution analysis using digital image processing for pipeline hydro-transportation,″ Biosystems Engineering, Volume 114 (2013), Pages 97-112Vaezi, M., Katta, A.K., and Kumar, A., ″Investigation into the mechanisms of pipeline transport of slurries of wheat straw and corn stover to supply a bio-refinery,″ Biosystems Engineering, Volume 118 (2014), Pages 52–67Vaezi, M. and Kumar, A., ″The flow of wheat straw suspensions in an open-impeller centrifugal pump,″ Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 69 (2014), Pages 106-126

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