WOOD You Believe What We Learned Today???????????????

By: Kelly Crocker, Grace Ko, Chris Underwood, and Erin Hensien

This Tuesday the engineering majors got the chance to visit the Thomas M. Brooks Forest Product Center. They got to take a closer look into the world of engineering and think about possible career paths by talking with an expert in the field about his research. This research centered around the process of the gasification of biomass and how it can affect the environment.

Hyperlink: https://cnre.vt.edu/college/facilities/index.html

The process of the gasification of biomass has four steps. The wood chips are dried, then heated in an environment lacking oxygen so that they don’t burn but are reduced to charcoal and tar. This charcoal and tar is then burned in a combustion chamber and the gases produced are collected. This “Syngas” is the desired product because it can be used to power motors, generators, and vehicles.

The gasification of biomass can have many positive environmental effects. This process sustains itself and can support other products. This energy source reduces air pollution by reducing the severity of the presence of greenhouse gases and closing the cycle of carbon dioxide. The cycle of carbon dioxide is closed since the process does not produce carbon dioxide, and only releases the carbon dioxide taken in by the tree during photosynthesis. The implementation of the gasification of biomass has significant potential success in rural areas. Since most communities in rural areas already use the burning of wood to produce energy, this process can collect the natural byproduct and repurpose it in a useful way.

Overall, we had a fun and engaging experience learning about the gasification process. Most of us had never heard about this process before so we gained new knowledge about the different areas of biosystems engineering. This visit to the Forest Product Center helped to continue our look into the field of agricultural engineering.


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