Low-energy and volumetric density of biomass has been a major challenge, hindering its large-scale utilization as a bioenergy resource. Torrefaction is a thermochemical pretreatment process that can significantly enhance the properties of biomass as a fuel by increasing the heating value and thermal stability of biomass materials. Densification of biomass by pelleting can greatly increase the volumetric density of biomass to improve its handling efficiency. Currently, torrefaction and pelleting are processed separately. So far, there has been little success in dovetailing torrefaction and pelleting, which only requires a single material loading to produce torrefied pellets. Synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting has been developed to address this challenge. Synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting can produce pellets of high energy and volumetric density in a single step, which tremendously reduces the time and energy consumption compared to that required by the prevailing multistep method. This novel fuel upgrading process can increase the biomass temperature to 473–573 K within tens of seconds to create torrefaction. Studying the temperature distribution is crucial to understand the fuel upgrading mechanism since pellet energy density, thermal stability, volumetric density, and durability are all highly related to temperature. A rheological model was established to instantiate biomass behaviors when undergoing various ultrasonic vibration conditions. Process parameters including ultrasonic amplitude, ultrasonic frequency, and pelleting time were studied to show their effects on temperature at different locations in a pellet. Results indicated that the volumetric heat generation rate was greatly affected by both ultrasonic amplitude and frequency. This model can help to understand the fuel upgrading mechanism in synchronized ultrasonic torrefaction and pelleting and also to give guidelines for process optimization to produce high-quality fuel pellets.

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