, Volume 105, Issue 1-3, pp 43-51

Physical separation of straw stem components to reduce silica

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In this paper, we describe ongoing efforts to solve challenges to using straw for bioenergy and bioproducts. Among these, silica in straw forms a low-melting eutectic with potassium, causing slag deposits, and chlorides cause corrosion beneath the deposits. Straw consists principally of stems, leaves, sheaths, nodes, awns, and chaff. Leaves and sheaths are higher in silica, while chaff, leaves, and nodes are the primary sources of fines. Our approach to reducing silica is to selectively harvest the straw stems using an in-field physical separation, leaving the remaining components in the field to build soil organic matter and contribute soil nutrients.