Along with estimates of minimum energy required by steam explosion pre-treatment of biomass some general problems concerning biomass conversion into chemicals, materials, and fuels are discussed. The energy necessary for processing biomass by steam explosion auto-hydrolysis is compared with the heat content of wood and calculated in terms of the amount of saturated steam consumed per unit mass of the dry content of wood biomass. The fraction of processed biomass available for conversion after steam explosion pre-treatment is presented as function of the amount of steam consumed per unit mass of the dry content of wood.
The estimates based on a simple model of energy flows show the energy required by steam explosion pre-treatment of biomass being within 10% of the heat content of biomass - a realistic amount demonstrating that energy for the process can be supplied from a reasonable proportion of biomass used as the source of energy for steam explosion pre-treatment.
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