Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pohlman, Nicholas

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering


Biomass is a perpetually burgeoning commodity as a sustainable energy resource, but some of the consistent drawbacks are transportation and sampling. The efficiency of pick-up and delivery to conversion facilities needs to be sufficient to allow for longer transport distances. Concurrent work explores the viability of using 20 ft intermodal shipping containers by using a screw auger to pack biomass feedstocks (miscanthus and corn stover) in ¼-scaled containers, which resulted in dry matter packing densities exceeding 8 lb/ft3. Full analysis of compaction energy plus transportation needs was found to understand net positive energy return on investment. To enhance the sampling capability, two modified shipping containers were designed: one modeled after the ¼ scaled version of the experiments as well as a ¼ scaled model of a standard 20 ft container. Both divided the system into thirds to characterize local density and chemical reactions of pre-treatment processes. Finite element analysis was performed to determine structural integrity of the modified shipping containers. Small-scale 3D printed models were also produced for demonstration purposes. The integration of the energy return-on investment and modified shipping containers demonstrated further viability of using 20 ft intermodal shipping containers for the next generation bioeconomy.


65 pages




Northern Illinois University

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