Structural and Thermal Stability Changes of Rice Straw Fibers during Anaerobic Digestion

Tengfei Xia, Enhui Sun, Wanying Tang, Hongying Huang, Guofeng Wu, Xiaochen Jin

Abstract


Rice straw fibers are potential raw materials that can be used to produce biogas and reinforcing fibers for composites. In order to ascertain the effects of anaerobic digestion on the structural properties of the fibers, the structure of fibrous residuals with different digestion time, including 0, 10, 20, and 30 days, were investigated. The normalized biogas production volume was 224 mL/g volatile solid of substrate, of which the methane content was about 50%. Fiber detergent analyses of the straw before and after 10 days digestion indicated that the cellulose levels increased from 34.3% to 41.3%, and cellulose crystallinity index ranged from 44.9% to 49.9%, respectively. After the rice straw had been digested for 30 days, the cellulose and hemicelluloses of the rice straw were partially degraded; the crystallinity index of the cellulose decreased from 44.9% to 40.1% based on XRD analyses, and the amount of hydroxyl groups were observed to decrease based on FT-IR analyses. Consequently, the polarity and hygroscopicity of the rice straw fibers were speculated to be lowered based on these observed changes. Furthermore, the relative amount of lignin in the straw residuals increased as digestion time increased, which increased the thermal stability of the resulting fibers. As a result of anaerobic digestion, the properties of the rice straw fibers for their use in plastic composites were enhanced.

Keywords


Rice straw fibers; Anaerobic digestion; Structural changes; Thermal stability

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