Project Info

Fluid Mechanics of Biomass & Biomaterials

Joseph Samaniuk

Project Goals and Description:

Biomass such as corn stover, wood chips, and forest residues can be converted to renewable fuels and other renewable resources, but the processing methods are far from optimized. We seek to address a major challenge in processing these materials, which is understanding the rheological (fluid & solid mechanics) properties of these materials during processing. One processing method is via “Continuous Enzymatic Hydrolysis”, which combines low-temperature enzymatic deconstruction of carbohydrates with ex situ micro- or nano-filtration to reduce product inhibition and improve enzyme efficiency. The flowability (rheology) of the processed biomass is a major part of the success of the process. Prior work at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the rheology of enzymatic hydrolysis slurries suggests that increased solids concentration increases yield stress and the coefficient of plasticity. These increases are likely to have significant impacts on process feasibility and performance that are not adequately described in current process models. The student on this project will assist a graduate student in making rheological measurement of biomass slurries that have been process to different degrees with enzymatic hydrolysis.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Not applicable.

Primary Contacts:

Joseph Samaniuk, | Jessie Troxler,

Student Preparation


No prior knowledge of the area or knowledge of simulations is needed, but the student must be interested in learning to use laboratory equipment and tools, and they must be interested in working with other senior-level undergraduate research students and graduate students.




Basic laboratory safety skills, basic wet laboratory skills, skills required for measuring surface tension


The student will attend our weekly laboratory group meetings. The first three weeks the student will meet at least bi-weekly with the faculty advisor or graduate student on the project, but a single meeting weekly after that.


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