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BEK Testing, Instrumentation, and Automation

Page history last edited by jay 13 years, 3 months ago




The Biochar Experimenters Kit (BEK) has the capability to switch between various modes to control the temperature, residence time, and flue gas pathway with the option of condensing bio oil with clean emissions. It is very helpful to explore the possibilities of run combinations across feedstocks by data logging and control using the Process Control Unit (PCU). This page is currently being populated with just some of the many testing runs we have done with the BEK, our observations, and exploration of various automation techniques, equipment, and the biochar itself. 



BEK Operators and Biochar Projects:



Big Island Growers

PCU runs Biochar production in Hawaii


Biochar Reserach at Uppsala University, Sweden


Troutner Pyrolysis Experiment 



AnthroTerra: Biochar research in Australia



Charlie Sellers: Berkeley, CA 


State of Israel Agricultural Research Organization

Volcani Center

Malaysian Palm Oil Board agricultural waste research     







Tutorial of BEK run modes



  • Testing:

BEK Walnut Shell Run 07/28/10

  • Thermocouple placement and feedback


Automation and Equipment

  • Pressure relief valves
  • burners
  • valves
  • design motivation
  • fill paddle switch 
  • materials



  • Biochar


  • Pyrolysis Bio-oil

There is an active frontier of research in using pyrolyis bio oil as a feedstock for value added products and fuels. Raw pyrolysis oils are challenged in their storage capabilities due to the instability of its constituents and will tend to tend have high viscosities that increase over storage time. Fractionation, acid treatments, de-oxygenation, are just some of the various upgrading techniques that are being researched and implemented in the field. Whatever the project, initial and final analysis is important to characterize a seemingly black oily hazardous mess to a value added bio-oil product and/or practical liquid fuel. Here we will start some notes on how to do so. 


Total Acid Number:

-ASTM method D664 outlines the procedure test for the total acid number (TAN) of biodiesel and petroleum oil samples by titration. This exact method can not be used to test pyrolysis bio-oil because it is soluble in polar solvents and partially soluble in water. Biodiesel and petroleum products are not soluble in water.  Researchers at the Department of Biological Systems of Virginia Tech have adapted the procedure to use aqueous 1M KOH and acetone for the titration solvent.This method is a quick, easy and accurate way to determine TAN for pyrolysis bio-oils.

Reference: http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2010/webprogrampreliminary/Paper193979.html










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