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Air pollution and fossil fuel reserves exhaustion are increasing the importance of the biomass-derived products, in particular wood, as source of clean and renewable energy for the production of electricity or steam. In order to improve the global efficiency and the entire production chain, we have to evaluate the energetic aspects linked to the process of transformation, handling and transport of these materials. This paper reports results on a comparison between two chippers of similar size using different cutting technology: disc and drum tool respectively. During trials, fuel consumption, PTO torque and speed, processing time and weight of processed material were recorded. Power demand, fuel consumption, specific energy and productivity were computed. The machine was fed with four different feedstock types (chestnut logs, poplar logs, poplar branches, poplar sawmill residues). 15 repetitions for each combination of feedstock-tool were carried out. The results of this study show that the disc tool requires, depending on the processed material, from 12 to 18% less fuel per unit of material processed than the drum tool, and consequently, from 12 to 16% less specific energy. In particular, the highest difference between tools was found in branches processing whereas the smallest was in poplar logs. Furthermore the results of the investigation indicate, that, in testing conditions, the productivity of drum tool is higher (8%) than disc tool.
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