Rheological behavior of cereal straw suspensions
The rheological properties (yield stress and viscosity) of cereal straw suspensions are especially important in bioethanol production as they determine the mixing behaviour of the suspension during enzymatic hydrolysis.Yield stress measurements are generally difficult to perform in straw suspensions due to sedimentation, which commonly occur in the suspensions because of the difficulty encountered in loading the suspension into the measuring equipment. The process of placing the suspension in the measuring instrument causes a disturbance likely to induce the yielding of the suspension before the actual measurements are taken. Moreover cereal suspensions at high straw concentration (10-40 wt%) are soft solids and pourability is particularly difficult with solids.Rheological behavior of staw suspensions made from wheat, Oats and malt barley of fiber sizes 0.15 mm-4.20 mm (mesh sizes 20 to 100) and concentrations 5.0-15.0 wt% were studied. The suspensions were initially prepared by dispersing milled and sieved straws in distilled water at room temperature, followed by vortexing to aid the dispersion process; this was later modified to include a 30-minute de-aeration of the suspensions using vacuum and 2-minute mixing using a general purpose mixer at about 162 rpm. However, none these procedures produced a homogenous suspension. The viscosity of the dispersion medium was modified by the addition of Xanthan gum. This produced homogenous suspensions which remained suspended for about 20 minutes. The rheological properties of these suspensions were measured on a Bohlin rheometer in the controlled stress mode using a vane and cup measuring instrument, and the suspension yield stress determined by extrapolation and by regression of Herschel-Bulkley, Casson and Bingham models. Yield stress obtained from extrapolation ranged from 2-19 Pa, while model results ranged from 0.96- 8.15 Pa, for 5.0 wt% Oats straw suspensions with Xanthan gum strengths of 0.1-0.5 wt%. Extrapolation results for 7.5 wt% Oats staw suspensions with Xanthan gum strengths of 0.1-0.5 wt% ranged from 20-36 Pa while model results were in the range of 4.38-18.76 Pa. Wheat and malt barely straw suspensions evaluated using Herschel-Bulkley model at similiar Oats straw suspension conditions of 5.0 wt% fiber concentration with 0.3 wt% Xanthan gum strength produced statistically equivalent yields stress to Oats straw suspensions in the range of 2.31-4.04 Pa for fibers of mesh size 40-100.Cereal straw suspenions are non-Newtonian fluids with yield stresses that are highly straw concentration dependent.