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The Japanese discover a new method of compressing plant biomass that has applications in bioenergy and medicine

Biomass is a reliable source of renewable energy, as it is made up of organic matter from plants and animals. It is readily available in nature and its organic composition makes it the best choice for an environmentally friendly energy source.

However, plant biomass contains more than 50% moisture, which must be reduced by mechanical methods or by natural heating and treatment to about 35% in order to increase the efficiency of energy generation when used as fuel. To get the best benefits, the drying process should be fast, economical, and energy efficient.

The current system of mechanical stress is inefficient because it requires a subsequent thermal drying process, which makes operation energy time consuming and can often involve cumbersome equipment at tangible cost. Furthermore, the compressed liquid produced as a by-product by most of these methods does not contain water-soluble lignin, an important structural polymer in plant cells with countless applications.

To address these issues, researchers in Japan led by Dr. Toshiaki Uehara, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Experimental Medicine, Okayama University School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, have identified an efficient mechanical stress system for dry plant biomass for energy generation. without the need for heat drying. His new method can be applied to both woody and herbaceous plants and yields a water-soluble lignin-containing pressurized liquid that has essential antiviral properties against influenza viruses and epidemic swine diarrhea.

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In their study, the results of which were published Oct. 22, 2022, in the Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management, the researchers used planks and pellets of cedar wood as woody biomass and Alpinia zerumbet species as herbaceous biomass to test new mechanics of the rolling pressure method.

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They found that cedar and albinia planks were compressed more effectively than cedar pellets. Explaining this observation, Dr. O’Hara says, “With our technology, all plants can be compressed; however, cedar planks and albinia compress more effectively than cedar grains, which compress in a random direction. This suggests that the pressure is along plant vessels, such as straw.” , necessary for efficacy.” It should be noted here that plant vessels are vascular tissues associated with the conduction of nutrients and water.

After pressing, the researchers shredded the waste into pellets to determine its combustion yield, an indicator of its potential as biomass for energy generation. The liquid obtained as a by-product of pressing was filtered, its lignin content and structure were determined, and its antiviral properties were assessed by cell viability assays.

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Cedar wood pellets showed a higher calorific value of combustion, which coincided with ISO standards, which indicates their higher energy yield. The gingerbread species produced more water-soluble lignin, but its calorific value upon combustion was slightly lower, at 95% of the ISO standards. However, both cedarwood and Alpinia zerumbet compress fluids significantly prevent swine epidemic diarrhea and influenza virus infection.

Dr. Yuta Nishina of the Okayama University Research Center for Interdisciplinary Sciences, a co-author of the study, noted, “The water-soluble non-chemically extracted lignin obtained in this way could find applications in the fields of medicine, cosmetics, and livestock. In addition to Therefore, the high-carbon, water-soluble lignin may be used in the production of carbon nanomaterials and contribute to the reduction of carbon pollution.”

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Summing up the benefits of his new method, Dr O’Hara said: “Our method requires no additional time, thermal storage or drying, allowing for on-site operation. This compressor can compress both wood and grass, allowing us to enhance biomass power generation using locally grown plants.” These properties are useful for promoting local sustainability.”