The ability of using novel method of near infrared (NIR) spectra to predict the composition and higher heating value (HHV) of dry pig manure was examined. Number of pig manure solid fractions variously pre-treated samples were collected in Denmark, from different pig slurry treatment plants (using mechanical or chemical-mechanical separation) and then analysed for their energy values. These values were determined by conventional method using bomb calorimetry and also calculated based on ultimate analysis. NIR spectra method was successfully applied and reasonable R2 values were obtained for the independent prediction set for nitrogen, ash, and the HHV. NIR also showed ability for predicting which type of treatment plants the samples came from. In addition, new empirical equations, based on ultimate analyses of pig manure solids used for prediction of the HHV was established.
Miscanthus plants were sampled from several plantations in Ireland over the harvest window (October-April). These were separated into their anatomical components and the loss of leaves monitored. Three distinct phases were apparent: there was minimal loss in the "Early" (October to early December) and "Late" (March and April) phases, and rapid leaf loss in the interim period. Samples were analysed for constituents relevant to biorefining. Changes in whole-plant composition included increases in glucose and Klason lignin contents and decreases in ash and arabinose contents. These changes arose mostly from the loss of leaves, but there were some changes over time within the harvestable plant components. Although leaves yield less biofuel than stems, the added biomass provided by an early harvest (31.9-38.4%) meant that per hectare biofuel yields were significantly greater (up to 29.3%) than in a late harvest. These yields greatly exceed those from first generation feedstocks.
Miscanthus samples were scanned over the visible and near infrared wavelengths at several stages of processing (wet-chopped, air-dried, dried and ground, and dried and sieved). Models were developed to predict lignocellulosic and elemental constituents based on these spectra. The dry and sieved scans gave the most accurate models; however the wet-chopped models for glucose, xylose, and Klason lignin provided excellent accuracies with root mean square error of predictions of 1.27%, 0.54%, and 0.93%, respectively. These models can be suitable for most applications. The wet models for arabinose, Klason lignin, acid soluble lignin, ash, extractives, rhamnose, acid insoluble residue, and nitrogen tended to have lower R(2) values (0.80+) for the validation sets and the wet models for galactose, mannose, and acid insoluble ash were less accurate, only having value for rough sample screening. This research shows the potential for online analysis at biorefineries for the major lignocellulosic constituents of interest.
The processing of lignocellulosic materials in modern biorefineries will allow for the
production of transport fuels and platform chemicals that could replace petroleum-derived
products. However, there is a critical lack of relevant detailed compositional information
regarding feedstocks relevant to Ireland and Irish conditions. This research has involved the
collection, preparation, and the analysis, with a high level of precision and accuracy, of a
large number of biomass samples from the waste and agricultural sectors. Not all of the
waste materials analysed are considered suitable for biorefining; for example the total sugar
contents of spent mushroom composts are too low. However, the waste paper/cardboard
that is currently exported from Ireland has a chemical composition that could result in high
biorefinery yields and so could make a significant contribution to Irelandís biofuel demands.