Measurement of Mechanical Compressive Properties and Densification Energy Requirement of Miscanthus × giganteus and Switchgrass

Zewei Miao, James W. Phillips, Tony E. Grift, Sunil K. Mathanker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignocellulosic biomass in bale form has a low bulk density. Current in-field balers can achieve a bulk density of merely 120 to 180 kg dry matter (DM) m−3, whereas modern high-compression cutting balers produce up to 230 kg m−3. Mechanical compression is a straightforward technique to increase the material density, which significantly improves the efficiency of transportation and storage, and simplifies handling. Traditional compression technology mainly produces pellets, but conceivably bales could be compressed to a higher density as well. To design compression machinery in general, it is essential to determine the mechanical properties of biomass under compression and compression energy consumption. In addition, the material rebound percentage after compression is needed to design low-cost containerization methods for highly compressed bales. In this research, we established pressure–bulk density relationships and calculated Poisson’s ratio for Miscanthus (Miscanthus × giganteus, Poaceae/Gramineae) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L. Poacea/Gramineae). We also calculated rebound percentages for Miscanthus in two particle sizes. The results showed that the energy consumption for compression of Miscanthus and switchgrass is low, ranging from 0.01 to 0.05 % of the inherent heating value of the materials. Poisson’s ratios of Miscanthus and switchgrass ranged from 0.2 to 0.3 for various particle sizes. The rebound percentage was found as 28 % for unground Miscanthus and 23 % for Miscanthus ground to 6.35-mm particles. A common opinion is that high-level compression of biomass may reduce its energy content. Although in this research some of the biomass was exposed to an extreme pressure of 750 MPa, microscopic imagery revealed no fractions in the cell walls, leading to the conjecture that compression does not negatively impact the conversion potential of the biomass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-164
Number of pages13
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • Bioenergy
  • Biomass feedstock
  • Particle structure
  • Poisson’s ratio
  • Rebounding force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)


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