Increasing demands and concerns for reliable supply of liquid transportation fuels make it important to find alternative sources to petroleum-based fuels. Cellulosic biofuels provide one such alternative in the short to medium term. Size reduction is the first step for converting biomass into biofuels. In the literature, there are inconsistent reports about the effects of particle size and biomass crystallinity on sugar yield (proportional to biofuel yield). An important reason for this inconsistence is that particle formation in current size reduction methods is not well controlled, causing the effects of these two variables confounded. One paper investigating the confounding effects of particle size and biomass crystallinity using a metal-cutting (milling) process was previously published in this journal. This paper presents a follow-up study. In this study, a lathe was used to produce poplar wood particles with the same crystallinity but different sizes, making it possible to study the effects of particle size on biofuel yield independently without being confounded by the effects of biomass crystallinity. Results showed that, for the three levels of particle size used in this study, sugar yield increased as particle size became smaller. This study also revealed future research opportunities to understand the effects of size reduction and biomass crystallinity in cellulosic biofuel manufacturing.

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