carmen
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biomass

Postby carmen » Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:37 pm

how to conduct test to find out " which biomass produce the most cellulose " some of the biomass like wood chips, corn stover, rice straw etc... can you please show me the procedures and materials required to do this test.

thank you

carman

MelissaB
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Postby MelissaB » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:17 am

Carmen,

First, I'm not sure you're using the term 'biomass' correctly--'biomass' is typically something you measure and refers to the mass of organisms (usually plants) in a certain area.

I found an assay, but you will need access to a lot of lab equipment your school may or may not have: http://msa.ars.usda.gov/la/srrc/fb/ca2.html.

Can you tell us a little more about why you're interested in this topic, and what you hope to find out? That may help us help you better.

carmen
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:55 am

biomass

Postby carmen » Fri Jun 22, 2007 9:45 pm

Thank you ! I don't quite understand the procedures you posted to me. It looks very complicated to me. . My understanding on biomass is anything that is alive or was alive at one time and later become trash or waste. They can be trees , crops, garbage, animal and lots more. I have read some articles about some different companies using different biomass to convert into ethanol - rice straw, corn stover and sugar cane bagasse. My hypothesis is sugar cane bagasse contained highest sugar and starch that will produce more ethanol than any others biomass. I wish to test if this is correct.

Would this information help you to understand better what I am into ?

Thank you

carmen

MelissaB
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Postby MelissaB » Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:37 am

It does help! We had another student who was interested in a very similar topic a while back. I think you'll find a lot of the links and a lot of the advice posted there very useful: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/mentoring/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2507&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15.

What resources do you have available to you in terms of lab equipment, if any?

Here is an example of a procedure where students were testing for glucose in the product, not cellulose: http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2003/Projects/J0516.pdf. It involves using concentrated acid, so you would need access to a labratory and would need supervision and safety equipment in order to do something similar.

Note that this group wanted to know how much glucose there was rather than how much cellulose there was--why are you interested in the cellulose? Typical methods of creating ethanol do not break down cellulose, so products with more cellulose actually tend to be poorer candidates for creating ethanol...although scientists are currently trying to come up with efficient methods to turn the cellulose into sugars, which can then be turned into biofuel.

You might want to look up both cellulose and ethanol on wikipedia.org (http://www.wikipedia.org); there's some good information about both there.

Once you've had a chance to look through all this, let us know if you have more questions.

carmen
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Postby carmen » Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:30 pm

Dear Melisssa :

Thank you for the information. Can I use sulfuric acid 1.00N solution APHA to test on the glucose content ? What is the ideal temperature on water used and for how long ?

Thank you

Regards
Carmen

MelissaB
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Postby MelissaB » Sat Jun 30, 2007 5:13 pm

The sulfuric acid is not used to test for glucose; it's used to break down the material so the glucose can be measured with the test strips. Sulfuric acid can be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, and you do not want to handle it without proper safety equipment, including safety goggles, and adult supervision. Where are you planning to do these experiments?[/i]

Louise
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Postby Louise » Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:04 am

MelissaB wrote:The sulfuric acid is not used to test for glucose; it's used to break down the material so the glucose can be measured with the test strips. Sulfuric acid can be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, and you do not want to handle it without proper safety equipment, including safety goggles, and adult supervision. Where are you planning to do these experiments?[/i]



I agree with Melissa. You need to be very specific about what you want to test, and you need to work in a lab setting. I'm a chemist. I wil be glad to help you do this safely, but I'm confused about your project.

There are three issues with regard to biomass that you discussed in this thread. They are related, but different projects.

1) What materials have the most cellulose? Usually this is tested by removing everything else from the sample (protein, simple sugars, water, lipids, etc) and seeing (weighing) what is left.

2) How well can you convert cellulose to sugar in a given material? (This is actually the major issue in ethanol production today. It is hard/expensive to break down cellulose to sugar, which is why most ethanol production comes from corn, which is mostly simple sugars. Of course, any plant that is mostly simple sugars is also food, so they are high value crops. The ideal would be to make ethanol from a weed that has no commerical value, but then you have to figure out how to break down the cellulose).

3) Evaluating the amount of glucose in a reaction mixture (that does not have to come from cellulose). For example, you could take 8 types of plants, do the assay (test) and see which one has the most simple sugar. Or you could combine part 1 and part 2, and test different methods of converting cellulose to sugars.

So, if you could clarify what it is you want to do, and what your hypothesis is, we can help you develope a procedure. As Melissa said, 1 N acids are fairly dangerous, and we also need to know what type of facilities you have access to, so we can make sure you are safe.


Louise

nicolerumore
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Postby nicolerumore » Sun Jul 01, 2007 6:12 pm

I found this information which seems helpful to your project:

Another type of plant matter, called cellulosic biomass, is made up of very complex sugar polymers, and is not generally used as a food source. This type of biomass is under consideration as a feedstock for bioethanol production. Specific feedstocks under consideration include:

-Agricultural residues (leftover material from crops, such as the stalks, leaves, and husks of corn plants)
-Forestry wastes (chips and sawdust from lumber mills, dead trees, and tree branches)
-Municipal solid waste (household garbage and paper products)
-Food processing and other industrial wastes (black liquor, a paper manufacturing by-product)
-Energy crops (fast-growing trees and grasses) developed just for this purpose

Cellulose is the most common form of carbon in biomass, accounting for 40%-60% by weight of the biomass, depending on the biomass source. It is a complex sugar polymer, or polysaccharide, made from the six-carbon sugar, glucose. Its crystalline structure makes it resistant to hydrolysis, the chemical reaction that releases simple, fermentable sugars from a polysaccharide.

- http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/abcs_biofuels.html

It lists some examples of cellulosic biomass material for you. Cellulosic biomass produces the most cellulose.

Louise
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Postby Louise » Mon Jul 02, 2007 6:38 am

nicolerumore wrote:- http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/abcs_biofuels.html


It lists some examples of cellulosic biomass material for you. Cellulosic biomass produces the most cellulose.



carmen,
This website is very useful (and is actually pointed out in the other thread MelissaB linked to several posts back). If you haven't looked at it, you should, since there is a lot of detail on this site. A list of pages suitable for students is at:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/for_students.html

Louise

carmen
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Postby carmen » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:14 pm

I was a little bit confussed between biomass and cellulose in the beginning. You have given me some very helpful website that I could better understand now. I would like to test on " which feedstocks produce more biomass in the same amount of time ? Do I follow the procedures as set forth in activity #9 ( Renewable energy : Biomass ) I would choose 3 type of first generation crops : corn seeds , barley seed and wheat seeds / 3 type of second generation crops : switch grass and prairie grass and bermuda grass or should I just test on either one. Can I just follow the procedure as set up in activity # 9 . If not , can you please help me to set up the procedure.

Thank you.

Carmen

Louise
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Postby Louise » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:52 pm

carmen wrote:I was a little bit confussed between biomass and cellulose in the beginning. You have given me some very helpful website that I could better understand now. I would like to test on " which feedstocks produce more biomass in the same amount of time ? Do I follow the procedures as set forth in activity #9 ( Renewable energy : Biomass ) I would choose 3 type of first generation crops : corn seeds , barley seed and wheat seeds / 3 type of second generation crops : switch grass and prairie grass and bermuda grass or should I just test on either one. Can I just follow the procedure as set up in activity # 9 . If not , can you please help me to set up the procedure.

Thank you.

Carmen


For the other experts, the project in question is found in the pdf of science fair projects for middle school and starts on page 65. The link to the pdf are at the bottom of the page:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/abc ... tml#school


I think using this procedure is fine and comparing food crops with grasses is a very interesting idea.


If you have time, you might want to run this project mre than 2 weeks. Most plants are not mature in 2 weeks, so you will not get maximum biomass in a short time. For example corn takes between 60 and 90 days before you can harvest corn from it, so it probably is very small 14 days. You may want to pick plants that will be mature in similar times. You can find this information by searching for "growing time for corn" or something like that. Results from sites ending in ".edu" are usually best.
Also, remember some of these plants get very large!

Louise

MelissaB
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Postby MelissaB » Thu Jul 05, 2007 9:10 am

I agree with Louise; that sounds like a great project to do.

One thing you may consider is whether or not you want to count the roots of the plants as part of the biomass. If they are, you will have to be very careful when you separate the roots from the soil. However, people generally don't think of roots as something to turn into biofuel, so you may just want to look at the green part of the plants.

Like Louise said, I would run the experiment longer, but you might also want to consider having several different groups of plants that you harvest at different times. You may find that plant A will give you more biomass than plant B after two weeks, but that if you wait two months, plant B will actually give you more biomass.

Also, you will need lots of space for this, and you'll have to be careful to prevent one type of plant from shading another if it grows too tall.

Let us know if you have any other questions!

carmen
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Postby carmen » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:49 pm

My mum has tried to look for the switchgrass and prairie grass seeds, but was not be able to find any. Do you have any clue where I can get some in a small quantity.

Thank you

Regards
carmen

Louise
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Postby Louise » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:30 pm

carmen wrote:My mum has tried to look for the switchgrass and prairie grass seeds, but was not be able to find any. Do you have any clue where I can get some in a small quantity.

Thank you

Regards
carmen


I'm not sure. I think you will not be able to find a small quantity for sale- you may have to buy a lot (but it should be cheap). You could try calling landscaping companies, and see if they could give you some. I think prarie grass is a general term... many different types of grasses grow on the prarie.

Here are some options. I've never ordered from any of these stores, so I don't know if they are good or bad places.

Gurney's seed company (http://gurneys.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_09547) sells a grass native to the prarie called Buffalo Grass Seed.


This place has many grasses including switch grass. They may not sell seeds- it might be plants:
http://www.hostas.com/grasses/gallery/g ... nical.html

This place has lots of grasses (again, including switchgrass) and they are seeds:
http://www.bamertseed.com/seeds.html

Here is one more place:
http://www.sharpseed.com/seeds.php?catID=3

Most of them look like they sell large sizes of seed. The last place looks like they might sell in smaller than the standard package (which is 50 lbs!!!). You or your mom may want to try calling a few places and seeing if they would either sell or give you a small packet for your science fair.

Also, switchgrass is called "Panicum virgatum", since some places use the latin names.

I assumed you are in the united states. If you are in a different country, you may not be able to purchase from these stores. I looked at a few places in Canada that specialized in grasses, but I did not find any that had switchgrass.

Louise


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