Steam Explosion Pilot Facility

The Steam Explosion Pilot Facility is housed within the secondary processing laboratory of the BEACON Pilot Plant Facility at IBERS Gogerddan, Aberystwyth. The steam explosion rig was designed and built specifically for the BEACON project for pre-treating fibrous, lignocellulosic plant material (biomass) prior to bio-conversion to fuel or chemicals using enzymes and microbes.

Technology summary

The Steam Explosion Pilot Facility uses steam to rapidly heat biomass up to a high pressure and temperature. Under high pressure the superheated steam penetrates the fibers as a liquid. The reactor is then rapidly decompressed into a flash tank, resulting in the hot liquid water reverting to steam. It is this rapid expansion that explodes the fiber in to small particles, which then enables better access for enzymes to release fermentable sugars from the plant fiber.

The volume of the steam explosion reactor is 30 L (0.2 to 2 kg of biomass) with an operating pressure of 30 barG and is capable of performing up to 25 runs a day.

APPLICATIONS

  • Hydrothermal pre-treatment of lignocellulosic biomass for enzyme hydrolysis to sugars.
  • Physico-chemical pre-treatment of lignocellulosic biomass for enzyme hydrolysis to sugars.
  • Integrated processing of biomass to products by fermentation.
  • Improving biogas yield during anaerobic digestion

How it works: