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Electrically driven, non-thermal dewatering of biomass

This project will develop the key technological principles for enabling strong (50 – 90%) energy  reduction in perhaps the key bottleneck in biomass utilization: water removal and drying. Electric driving forces will be used to draw water from the solids. 

Water removal is typically done through evaporation. The technology developed in this project is aimed at high viscosities and semi-solid or solid materials, and does not use evaporation but electric driving forces to draw water from the solids. 

Three different approaches are used:

  1. Feeds that are still reasonably fluid, are dewatered using electro-responsive materials, that absorb and desorb water under the influence of an electric potential.
  2. A slurry that has become a (soft) solid, will be dewatered using electro-dewatering, using a range of mechanisms (electrophoresis, electromigration and electro-osmosis) to draw liquid water from the solids.
  3. Electro-hydrodynamic drying is used to dry (semi-)solids that need to lose their remaining water (and in which diffusion in the solid phase is rate limiting).

This project is carried out in close collaboration with key industries in the food, biomass and paper and pulp industries.

For more information, contact maarten.schutyser@wur.nl