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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Microwave Sensors for Rapid, in-Line Determination of the Moisture Content of Solid Biomass Products

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Project Number: 6040-44000-028-01
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Oct 01, 2013
End Date: Sep 30, 2015

Objective:
1. Develop suitable density independent algorithms for accurate moisture content determination of pelletized and woodchip based biomass products from the dielectric properties at microwave frequencies. 2. Develop suitable microwave sensors for measuring the dielectric properties of biomass in flowing systems, both on conveyors and in pipes. 3. Implement the developed sensor in industrial biomass production facilities.

Approach:
1. Measure the dielectric properties of commonly used pelletized and woodchip biomass products with appropriate laboratory instruments (e.g., free-space technique, open-ended coaxial-line probe technique) over a range of moisture contents, temperatures, bulk densities and frequencies. 2. Based on these measurements, develop suitable algorithms for predicting the moisture content of biomass from the dielectric properties and identify suitable fixed operating frequencies that minimize both the hardware cost and prediction error. 3. Design and build microwave sensors, based on existing techniques, for measuring the dielectric properties of solid biomass in-line on conveyors and in pipes. 4. Develop and implement simple calibration routines for these sensors. 5. Implement the sensors in an industrial production facility.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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