Fast measurement by infrared spectroscopy as support to woody biofuels quality determination

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Daniele Duca *
Andrea Pizzi
Manuela Mancini
Giorgio Rossini
Chiara Mengarelli
Alessio Ilari
Giulia Lucesoli
Giuseppe Toscano
Ester Foppa Pedretti
(*) Corresponding Author:
Daniele Duca |


The increase in the demand for energy supply during the past few decades has brought and will bring to a growth in the utilisation of renewable resources, in particular of solid biomasses. Considering the variability in the properties of biomass and the globalisation of the timber market, a chemical and physical characterisation is essential to determine the biomass quality. The specific international standards on solid biofuels (ISO 17225 series) describe proper specification and classification of wood chip and pellet, to ensure appropriate quality. Moreover, standard requires information about origin and source of the biomass, normally only to be declared by the producers. In order to fulfill the requirements for the biomass quality, the origin and the source should be assessed, even if currently is hard to determine, in particular on milled or densified biomass. Infrared spectroscopy can provide information on the biomass at the chemical level, directly linked also to its origin and source. This technique is fast and not destructive thus suitable also for online monitoring along the biofuel production chain. In this study, 60 samples belonging to 8 different species were collected and related spectra were acquired using a Fourier transform infrared (IR) spectrometer equipped with a module for solid analysis and analysed by principal component analysis. The results obtained show that the method is very efficient in the identification between coniferous and deciduous wood (99% confidence level) and good results were obtained in the recognition of coniferous/deciduous mixtures, too. Nevertheless, some clear differences have been also noted among intra-class grouping, but additional tests should be carried out. This technique can provide useful information to solid biofuel stakeholders about wood quality and origin, important especially for sustainability issues. Further work will be oriented to the development of IR methodologies for the fast measurement of other important biomass parameters (e.g., ash content, high calorific value, nitrogen content, etc.).

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