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Measuring solid biomass water content

Measuring solid biomass water content
Water content plays a major role on calorific value of solid biomass. 

Optimising megawatt-hour cost

The more a solid biomass is wet and the more it will be necessary to use energy of this fuel to evacuate the water it contains. Moisture content is a key characteristic to optimise megawatt-hour (MWh) cost. The amount of MWh depends both on the weight and moisture content of the bio fuel: bio fuels weight or volume + moisture content = MWh.

Crucially, the moisture content helps:
- optimise the energy efficiency of boilers and reduce biomass consumption,
- reduce transport, reception, storage and drying costs,
- control air emissions (CO2, particles…) and prevents air quality deterioration,
- lower the ash and unburnt rates,
- reduce preventive and curative maintenance cost for fuel installations,
- cut back the investment in avoiding oversizing of boilers,
- rate energy price without cost premium related to water content.

Measuring moisture content on site

Precise measurement of moisture content depends on the sample representativeness, the moisture tester reliability and the compliance of the measurement protocol by the operators.
Moisture content of a solid biomass can be measured either in a laboratory or with on site moisture meters.
Oven drying is the reference method for determining water content precisely. However, apart its cost (as an example, between 30 and 70€ per measurement *), it takes time: 20 to 40 minutes to measure each sample and 24 hours to get the results.

Portable moisture meters are an alternative to the oven drying method. Calibrated with the reference method of the EN 14774 standard (Solid biofuels - Determination of moisture content), the Humitest® for pellets and the Humitest® for biomass all have an advantage: they can be used for instant, reliable moisture measurements on site, thus limiting handling costs relating to non-conformity of the fuel and optimising operation of the fuel plants.

* Source Ademe

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