FarmBio (with Drexel University)
Donor: United States Department of Agriculture
Award Date: 2/4/2013
Exergy is an expression of the maximum theoretical available work from a substance if it were to achieve equilibrium with the environment. The fundamentals of exergy are based on the first and second law of thermodynamics that have been used in process analysis since the middle of the last century. More recently, exergy has been suggested as a useful tool in life cycle analysis for estimating depletion of renewable resources. In exergy analysis, the available work from natural resources is quantified. For sustainable development, the depletion of exergy must be minimized. This is a distinct improvement over energy-based analyses, since all energy cannot be converted to useful work. We intend to complete an energetic and exergetic life cycle analysis, which includes the production and conversion of biomass to bio-oil. Switchgrass (a perennial grass with high yields in a variety of soil conditions), equine waste and woody residue from forest reserves will be converted to bio-oil using a fast pyrolysis process. This thermochemical technique is being considered by the USDA for processing energy crops and agricultural residues. Our study will involve collaboration with Prof. Sabrina Spateri of Drexel University and will provide research experiences for several Swarthmore undergraduates.
Project End Date: 8/21/2015