The condition of heat transfer to lignocellulosic biomass particles during thermal processing at high temperature (>400 °C) dramatically alters the yield and quality of renewable energy and fuels. In this work, crystalline cellulose particles were discovered to lift off heated surfaces by high speed photography similar to the Leidenfrost effect in hot, volatile liquids. Order of magnitude variation in heat transfer rates and cellulose particle lifetimes was observed as intermediate liquid cellulose droplets transitioned from low temperature wetting (500-600 °C) to fully de-wetted, skittering droplets on polished surfaces (>700 °C). Introduction of macroporosity to the heated surface was shown to completely inhibit the cellulose Leidenfrost effect, providing a tunable design parameter to control particle heat transfer rates in industrial biomass reactors.
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Financial support was provided from the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, a U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Frontiers Research Center (www.efrc.udel.edu) under Award DE-SC0001004.
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