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Title:
ARRANGEMENT FOR FEEDING WOOD PARTICLES INTO IMPREGNATING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/156645
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An arrangement for feeding wood particles into an impregnating stage of a wood treatment process comprises a feed silo (301, 701), at least one impregnating vessel (305, 601, 602, 603, 703) for receiving wood particles into said impregnating stage, and two or more conveyors (302, 303, 304, 501, 502, 503, 702) between said feed silo (301, 701) and said at least one impregnating vessel (305, 601, 602, 603, 703), for transferring wood particles from said feed silo (301, 701) to said at least one impregnating vessel (305, 601, 602, 603, 703). Each of said conveyors (302, 303, 304, 501, 502, 503, 702) is a compressing conveyor for applying pressure to the wood particles on their way through the respective conveyor.

Inventors:
TURUNEN SAMI (FI)
LAITILA MIKA (FI)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2019/052133
Publication Date:
August 06, 2020
Filing Date:
January 29, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
UPM KYMMENE CORP (FI)
International Classes:
B27K3/02; B27K3/16; B27K5/00; B65G33/00; C10G1/00
Foreign References:
US20150132201A12015-05-14
JPH09314521A1997-12-09
US20140311480A12014-10-23
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAPULA OY (FI)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Arrangement for feeding wood particles in to an impregnating stage of a wood treatment process, comprising :

- a feed silo (301, 701),

- at least one impregnating vessel (305, 601, 602,

603, 703) for receiving wood particles into said im pregnating stage, and

- two or more conveyors (302, 303, 304, 501, 502, 503, 702) between said feed silo (301, 701) and said at least one impregnating vessel (305, 601, 602, 603, 703), for transferring wood particles from said feed silo (301, 701) to said at least one impregnating ves sel (305, 601, 602, 603, 703);

wherein each of said conveyors (302, 303, 304, 501,

502, 503, 702) is a compressing conveyor for applying pressure to the wood particles on their way through the respective conveyor.

2. An arrangement according to claim 1, wherein said feed silo (301, 701) is a pre-steaming silo for treating said wood particles with steam.

3. An arrangement according to claim 1 or 2, wherein each of said conveyors (302, 303, 304, 501, 502, 503, 702) is a plug screw feeder or a force feed screw.

4. An arrangement according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein:

- each of said two or more conveyors (302, 303, 304, 702) comprises a respective conveyor input and a re- spective conveyor output,

- the conveyor inputs of said two or more conveyors (302, 303, 304, 702) are coupled to said feed silo (301, 701) in parallel for receiving a respective com- ponent stream of wood particles from said feed silo (301, 701) .

5. An arrangement according to claim 4, com prising a divider (401) between said feed silo (301, 701) and said conveyor inputs for dividing wood parti cles from said feed silo (301, 701) into said compo nent streams.

6. An arrangement according to any of claims 4 or 5, wherein one impregnating vessel (305, 703) is coupled to at least two of said conveyor outputs for receiving at least two of said component streams.

7. An arrangement according to any of claims 4 or 5, wherein:

- a first impregnating vessel (601) is coupled to the conveyor output of a first conveyor (302), to receive a first component stream of said component streams,

- a second impregnating vessel (602) is coupled to the conveyor output of a second conveyor (303) , to receive a second component stream of said component streams,

- the arrangement comprises a combiner stage (306) af ter said first (601) and second (602) impregnating vessels for combining outputs of said first (601) and second (602) impregnating vessels.

8. An arrangement according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein:

- each of said two or more conveyors (501, 502, 503) comprises a respective conveyor input and a respective conveyor output,

- the conveyor input of a first conveyor (501) of said two or more conveyors is coupled to said feed silo (301) for receiving said wood particles from said feed silo (301) , and

- the conveyor output of said first conveyor (501) is coupled to the conveyor input of a second conveyor (502) of said two or more conveyors for transferring said wood particles through said first (501) and sec ond (502) conveyors in sequence on their way from said feed silo (301) to said impregnating stage (305).

9. An arrangement according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said impregnating stage (305, 601, 602, 603, 703) comprises soaking said wood particles in a dilute acid solution.

10. Method for feeding wood particles from a feed silo into an impregnating stage of a wood treat ment process, the method comprising:

- transferring the wood particles into at least one impregnating vessel for said impregnating stage using at least two compressing conveyors that apply pressure to the wood particles on their way through said at least two conveyors.

11. A method according to claim 10, compris ing treating said wood particles with steam in said feed silo.

12. A method according to claim 10 or 11, wherein said at least two conveyors are used in paral lel to transfer at least two component streams of wood particles from said feed silo to said impregnating stage .

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein at least two of said component streams are fed into a common impregnating vessel for said impregnating stage .

14. A method according to claim 12, wherein:

- a first component stream of said component streams is fed into a first impregnating vessel for said im pregnating stage,

- a second component stream of said component streams is fed into a second impregnating vessel for said im pregnating stage,

- outputs of said first and second impregnating ves sels are combined into a common material stream. 15. A method according to any of claims 10 or

11, wherein two of said at least two conveyors are used in series to transfer a stream of wood particles from said silo through both of said two conveyors to said impregnating stage. 16. A method according to any of claims 10 to

15, comprising:

- transferring outputs of said at least one impregnat ing vessel into a hemihydrolysis reactor.

17. A method according to any of the preced- ing claims, wherein said impregnating stage comprises soaking said wood particles in a dilute acid solution.

Description:
ARRANGEMENT FOR FEEDING WOOD PARTICLES INTO IMPREGNATING FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention concerns the general technical field of converting biomass into chemical bioproducts in industrial scale. In particular the invention con cerns the technology of pretreating wood particles and moving them between various pretreating stages.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The production of biomass-based chemicals may use for example wood particles as the main raw materi- al . In a biomass-to-sugar process the wood particles may be subjected to various kinds of pretreatment such as washing, impregnating with water and/or other liq uids, and heating, in order to prepare them for the later stages of the process.

A pretreatment process may involve soaking the wood particles in steam or hot water, then soaking them in dilute acid, and subsequently taking the acid- impregnated wood particles into a hemihydrolysis reac tor where a steam explosion reaction breaks the parti- cles into reaction products such as cellulose, hemi- cellulose (so-called C5 sugar), and lignin. Mechanical conveyors such as screw feeders transfer the impreg nated wood particles between the stages of the pre treatment process.

A screw feeder is an example of a compressing conveyor that applies a squeezing force to the trans ferred material. This is a useful property when the liquid content of the material needs to be influenced upon. As the material passes through the screw feeder it becomes compressed, removing some previously ab sorbed liquid and causing some - at least partially elastic - compressing deformation. Releasing the com pressed material from the screw feeder makes it readi ly absorb a new impregnating liquid if one is availa ble, as the elastic deformation relaxes.

Not only the actual pretreatment stages but also the conveyor solutions between them that move the wood particles forward in the process have an effect on how the process works, so they must be designed and dimensioned accordingly.

SUMMARY

According to a first aspect there is provided an arrangement for feeding wood particles into an im pregnating stage of a wood treatment process. The ar rangement comprises a feed silo, at least one impreg nating vessel for receiving wood particles into said impregnating stage, and two or more conveyors between said feed silo and said at least one impregnating ves sel. The conveyors are used for transferring wood par ticles from said feed silo to said at least one im pregnating vessel. Each of said conveyors is a com pressing conveyor for applying pressure to the wood particles on their way through the respective convey or .

According to a second aspect there is provid ed a method for feeding wood particles from a feed si lo into an impregnating stage of a wood treatment pro cess. The method comprises transferring the wood par ticles into at least one impregnating vessel for said impregnating stage using at least two compressing con veyors that apply pressure to the wood particles on their way through said at least two conveyors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the described embodiments and constitute a part of this specifica tion, illustrate various advantageous features and ex amples of their combinations. In the drawings:

Figure 1 illustrates a chemical refining pro cess on a general level,

Figure 2 illustrates an example of process stages in pretreatment,

Figure 3 illustrates an example of process stages and equipment,

Figure 4 illustrates another example of pro cess stages and equipment,

Figure 5 illustrates another example of pro cess stages and equipment, and

Figure 6 illustrates another example of pro cess stages and equipment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Numerical attributes such as first, second, third, and so on are used in this description and the appended claims for the purpose of giving unambiguous names to concepts. They do not refer to any particular order, unless otherwise explicitly stated.

In the context of this description the term wood particles refers to a material that consists mainly of pieces of wood formed by cutting or chipping larger pieces of wood such as trees, branches, logging residues, stumps, roots, and wood waste. The size of the wood particles may vary in a wide range from a few millimetres to a few centimetres, so the wood parti cles meant here are typically larger than those meant with the term sawdust. The wood used to make wood par ticles may be debarked or it main contain bark. For a wood-to-sugar process the preferred raw material is broadleaf wood due to its relatively high inherent sugar content, but the use of other kinds of wood is not excluded. The terms wood chips, wooden chips, or just chips can be used to mean the same thing as wood particles. The term chips is used in the appended drawing because it is short.

Fig. 1 illustrates schematically how in a method and arrangement for treating wood particles the wood particles may go to pretreatment, schematically illustrated as 101. The purpose of the pretreatment

101 is to prepare the incoming wood particles for ef ficient use in the process, by removing some unwanted impurities, by compensating for some of the natural fluctuations in the characteristics of the material, and by breaking down the natural structure of the wood material. Hemicellulose (C5 sugars) can be collected from the pretreatment 101, and cellulose (or lignocel- lulosic material) can be taken further to a hydrolysis

102 to produce carbohydrates of desired kind.

Fig. 2 illustrates an example of a product flow through various stages that all belong to the pretreatment 101 of fig. 1. Washing 201 is done with water, removing some mainly inorganic impurities such as sand. Washed wood particles are taken to steam treatment 202 for the purpose of removing air from in side the wood particles and to preheat them to an ele vated temperature. Steam-treated wood particles are taken to dilute acid treatment 203 for impregnating them with a dilute acid solution. The aim of the di lute acid treatment 203 is to make the dilute acid so lution penetrate into the wood particles as evenly as possible .

The acid-impregnated wood particles are taken to hemihydrolysis (not separately shown in fig. 2) where they are under elevated pressure and tempera ture. At the output of the hemihydrolysis the wood particles undergo a steam explosion 204 that breaks their structure. The output stream from the steam ex plosion 204 goes through steam separation (not sepa rately shown) to mixing 205 where water is added and the resulting mass is homogenized mechanically to break up agglomerates. Solids and liquids may then be separated at 206 for feeding into later process stag es .

It has been found that in a pretreatment pro cess of a commercially viable scale the use of a known plug screw feeder to feed wood particles into an im pregnating stage may result in less than optimal im pregnating. This is an important finding, because spa tially even absorption of the dilute acid solution in the wood particle would be highly desirable: it af fects the quality of the product later in the process. The relatively large flow rates of a commercially via ble wood-to-sugar process mean that it is not feasible to assume that a wood particle would spend more than some minutes in the impregnating vessel 401. Aiming at longer times would mean that the impregnating vessel 401 would need to be larger than is practical to build. However, after only some minutes under the in fluence of the acidic solution the wood particle may not have been fully penetrated, or at least the spa tial distribution of acid inside the wood particle is not completely even. This problem is made even worse if the wood particle was not in optimal condition (shape, size, amount of bark in unbarked feedstock, not compressed enough) for absorbing the dilute acid solution when it came to the impregnating stage.

The compression ratios of commercially avail able plug screw feeders are between 1.5 and 6, and the compression ratio tends to become lower when one goes towards larger equipment and larger material flows. This is an underlying cause of the problem that in commercially viable, industrial scale processes the work done on the wood particle in the compressing con veyor before an impregnating stage may not be suffi cient for effective impregnation.

It has been found that more efficient com pressing, and consequently a better initial condition of the wood particles for impregnating, can be achieved by using two or more conveyors between the pre-steaming silo and the impregnating vessel (s) . This way the compressing work done per wood particle by an individual conveyor becomes larger.

Fig. 3 illustrates schematically a part of an arrangement for pretreating wood particles in a wood treatment process. As a part thereof there is an ar rangement for feeding the wood particles into an im pregnating stage of the wood treatment process. The arrangement comprises a feed silo, which in the embod iment of fig. 3 is a pre-steaming silo 301 for treat ing the wood particles with steam. The arrangement comprises an impregnating vessel 305 for receiving wood particles in the impregnating stage that is dis cussed here. The impregnating vessel 305 comprises an input for a dilute solution of an acid, such as sul phuric acid, for soaking the received wood particles in said dilute acid solution in order to prepare them for hemihydrolysis and steam explosion in a reactor 307 further downstream in the process. Other acids that could be used for said impregnation comprise - but are not limited to - nitric acid, phosphoric acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, formic acid and carbonic ac id.

The arrangement comprises two or more convey ors 302, 303, and 304 between the pre-steaming silo 301 and the impregnating vessel 305 for transferring wood particles from the pre-steaming silo 301 to the impregnating vessel 305. Each of these conveyors is a compressing conveyor for applying pressure to the wood particles on their way to through the respective con veyor .

Concerning the feed silo, which in fig. 3 is the pre-steaming silo 301, it is not a necessary re quirement that it is used for pre-steaming. As was de scribed above with reference to fig. 2, advantageous effects of pre-steaming include removing air from in side the wood particle and preheating. These or corre sponding effects can be achieved otherwise than by ap plying steam; for example various vacuum and microwave related techniques can be used. If the silo is a pre steaming silo, the steam used therein may be pure steam of water or it may contain additives, such as some acid, to enhance the desired effect. The fact that the conveyors 302 to 304 are fed from a silo has an advantageous effect, because stable operation and constant effect on the transferred material of plug screw feeders of force feed screws (which are examples of compressing conveyors) are easy to achieve by using a silo for feeding and by maintaining the surface lev el of the material inside the silo sufficiently high.

Taken the relatively large flow rates of a commercially viable wood-to-sugar process it is not feasible to assume that a wood particle would spend more than some minutes in the impregnating vessel 305. Aiming at longer times would mean that the impregnat ing vessel 305 would need to be larger than is practi cal to build. However, after only some minutes under the influence of the acidic solution the acid may not have fully penetrated the wood particle, or at least the spatial distribution of acid inside the wood par ticle may not be completely even. It has been found advantageous to provide a soaking silo as a temporary storage in which the spatial distribution of acid in side the wood particle has time to even out. In the schematic presentation of fig. 3 the soaking silo would appear in block 306. The residence time in the soaking silo 502 may be in the orders of some tens of minutes. In an embodiment the residence time in the soaking silo 502 is not more than 60 minutes. In an other, preferred embodiment the residence time in the soaking silo 502 is not more than 30 minutes. In the arrangement of fig. 3 the two or more conveyors operate in parallel. That is, each of the two or more conveyors 302 to 304 comprises a respec tive conveyor input and a respective conveyor output, and the conveyor inputs are coupled to the pre steaming silo 301 in parallel for receiving a respec tive component stream of wood particles from the pre steaming silo 301. There is only one, common impreg nating vessel 305, which is coupled to at least two (here: all) of the conveyor outputs for receiving at least two (here: all) of the component streams.

Taken that there is a certain gross material flow through the process, each of the N parallel com pressing conveyors (N = 2, 3, ...) conveys an 1/N frac tion of the gross material flow. In total, N times the work of an individual compressing conveyor is per formed on the material flow. This ensures much more thoroughly conditioned wood particles at the beginning of the impregnating stage in the impregnating vessel 305 than if only one compressing conveyor would be used for transferring.

Fig. 4 illustrates an embodiment that is oth erwise similar to that of fig. 3 but there is provided a divider 401 between the feed silo (the pre-steaming silo 301) and the conveyor inputs for dividing wood particles from the feed silo into the component streams. In fig. 3 it was assumed that the conveyor inputs were simply installed at the bottom of the pre steaming silo 301. The divider 401 may be a static, mechanical divider like a wedge-shaped barrier that mechanically guides wood particles from the pre steaming silo 301 to the conveyor inputs. Additionally or alternatively it may comprise conveyors of its own, like a double screw feeder that receives a flow of wood particles from the silo in the middle and that exhibits helixes of opposite handedness towards its two ends . Fig. 5 illustrates an embodiment in which the compressing conveyors operate in series. That is, each of the two or more conveyors 501 to 503 comprises a respective conveyor input and a respective conveyor output, of which only the conveyor input of a first conveyor 501 is coupled to the feed silo (the pre steaming silo 301) for receiving wood particles from the feed silo. The conveyor output of the first con veyor 501 is coupled to the conveyor input of the sec ond conveyor 502 for transferring the wood particles through said first 501 and second 502 conveyors in se quence on their way from the feed silo to the impreg nating stage. Fig. 5 illustrates schematically the possibility of having more than two compressing con veyors in series (see block 503 in fig. 5) .

In an embodiment where two or more compress ing converters operate in series, in order to fully achieve the advantageous effect of double compressing work on the wood particle the compression stages should follow each other directly enough, with minimum delay in between so that the mechanical deformation achieved in a preceding compression does not relax too much before the next compression. Therefore the con veyor output of the preceding conveyor is most advan tageously directly coupled to the conveyor input of the next conveyor, with few or no intermittent pieces of apparatus therebetween.

Fig. 6 illustrates an embodiment that is oth erwise similar to that of fig. 3 or fig. 4 (the divid er 401 being optional) but there are separate impreg nating vessels coupled to at least two of the com pressing conveyors 302 to 304. That is, a first im pregnating vessel 601 is coupled to the conveyor out put of a first conveyor 302 to receive a first compo nent stream, and a second impregnating vessel 602 is coupled to the conveyor output of a second conveyor 303 to receive a second component stream. The arrange- ment comprises a combiner stage after said first 601 and second 602 impregnating vessels for combining out puts of the first 601 and second 602 impregnating ves sels to a later stage of the wood treatment process. In the schematic presentation of fig. 6 the combiner stage is included in block 306.

An additional advantageous effect of using at least two compressing conveyors before the impregnat ing stage has been found when some further stages of the process are considered in more detail. Fig. 7 il lustrates schematically an apparatus for pretreating wood particles. A pre-steaming silo 701 is provided for treating the wood particles with steam, i.e. im plementing at least part of the stage shown as stage 202 in fig. 2. At least two compressing conveyors 702 are provided for transferring steam-treated wood par ticles from the pre-steaming silo 701 to one or more impregnating vessels 703 in which the dilute acid treatment stage 203 of fig. 2 is implemented. Down stream from the one or more impregnating vessels 703 there may be provided one or more soaking silos 704 for giving the dilute acid solution more time to pene trate into the inner parts of the wood particles. One or more further compressing conveyors 705 may be used to transfer the acid-impregnated wood particles into a reactor 706 in which the hemihydrolysis reaction takes place and at the output of which the steam explosion takes place.

The dry matter content and acid content of the material that goes into the reactor 706 are im portant process parameters, because they have an ef fect on how the desired reactions proceed in the reac tor 706 and downstream from it in the process. The re actor 706 is pressurized, and the compressing capabil ity of the immediately preceding compressing conveyor 705 may be used to aid the feeding of the material flow into the reactor 706. Now when two or more compressing conveyors

702 have been used before the impregnating vessel (s) 703, the penetration of dilute acid solution into the wood particle may be more complete than if only one compressing conveyor had been used at stage 702; the material may be "wetter" of dilute acid. The extent to which this occurs can be controlled by controlling, among others, the operation of the compressing convey ors 702. In order to achieve the desired dry matter content and acid content at the input of the reactor 706, the operation of the later compressing conveyor

705 can be controlled. There is a wider control win dow, i.e. more accurate controlling possibilities, for the last-mentioned due to the fact that two or more compressing conveyors were used at stage 702.

It is obvious to a person skilled in the art that with the advancement of technology, the ideas ex plained above may be implemented in various ways. The claimed scope is thus not limited to the examples de- scribed above.