Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biosystems Engineering

Major Professor

Nourredine Abdoulmoumine

Committee Members

Julie Carrier, Hao Gan, Oluwafemi Oyedeji, Hamparsum Bozdogan


Lignocellulosic biomass material sourced from plants and herbaceous sources is a promising substrate of inexpensive, abundant, and potentially carbon-neutral energy. One of the leading limitations of using lignocellulosic biomass as a feedstock for bioenergy products is the flow issues encountered during biomass conveyance in biorefineries. In the biorefining process, the biomass feedstock undergoes flow through a variety of conveyance systems. The inherent variability of the feedstock materials, as evidenced by their complex microstructural composition and non-uniform morphology, coupled with the varying flow conditions in the conveyance systems, gives rise to flow issues such as bridging, ratholing, and clogging. These issues slow down the conveyance process, affect machine life, and potentially lead to partial or even complete shutdown of the biorefinery. Hence, we need to improve our fundamental understanding of biomass feedstock flow physics and mechanics to address the flow issues and improve biorefinery economics.

This dissertation research examines the fundamental relationship between structural constituents of diverse lignocellulosic biomass materials, i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, their morphology, and the impact of the structural composition and morphology on their flow behavior.

First, we prepared and characterized biomass feedstocks of different chemical compositions and morphologies. Then, we conducted our fundamental investigation experimentally, through physical flow characterization tests, and computationally through high-fidelity discrete element modeling. Finally, we statistically analyzed the relative influence of the properties of lignocellulosic biomass assemblies on flow behavior to determine the most critical properties and the optimum values of flow parameters. Our research provides an experimental and computational framework to generalize findings to a wider portfolio of biomass materials. It will help the bioenergy community to design more efficient biorefining machinery and equipment, reduce the risk of failure, and improve the overall commercial viability of the bioenergy industry.

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