Pecan nut (Carya illinoensis) pericarp is usually considered as a waste, with no or low value applications. Its potential as a densified solid biofuel has been evaluated, searching for alternatives to generating quality renewable energy and reducing polluting emissions in the atmosphere, based on particle size, that is an important feedstock property. Therefore, agro-industrial residues from the pecan nut harvest were collected, milled and sieved to four different granulometry: 1.6 mm (N° 12), 0.84 mm (N° 20), 0.42 mm (N° 40), and 0.25 mm (N° 60), used as raw material for biofuel briquette production. The carbon and oxygen functional groups in the base material were investigated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and proximate analyses were performed following international standards, for determining the moisture content, volatile materials, fixed carbon, ash content, and calorific value. For the biofuel briquettes made from base material of different particle sizes, the physical characteristics (density, hardness, swelling, and impact resistance index) and energy potential (calorific value) were determined to define their quality as a biofuel. The physical transformation of the pecan pericarp wastes into briquettes improved its quality as a solid biofuel, with calorific values from around 17.00 MJ/kg for the base material to around 18.00 MJ/kg for briquettes, regardless of particle size. Briquettes from sieve number 40 had the highest density (1.25 g/cm3). Briquettes from sieve number 60 (finest particles) presented the greater hardness (99.85). The greatest susceptibility to swelling (0.31) was registered for briquettes with the largest particle size (sieve number 20). The IRI was 200 for all treatments.
Keywords: biomass densification; functional groups for energy storage; granulometric distribution; proximate analysis; solid waste-to-biofuel.