A new class of plant biomass feedstock particles characterized by consistent piece size and shape uniformity, high skeletal surface area, and good flow properties. The particles of plant biomass material having fibers aligned in a grain are characterized by a length dimension (L) aligned substantially parallel to the grain and defining a substantially uniform distance along the grain, a width dimension (W) normal to L and aligned cross grain, and a height dimension (H) normal to W and L. In particular, the L.times.H dimensions define a pair of substantially parallel side surfaces characterized by substantially intact longitudinally arrayed fibers, the W.times.H dimensions define a pair of substantially parallel end surfaces characterized by crosscut fibers and end checking between fibers, and the L.times.W dimensions define a pair of substantially parallel top and bottom surfaces. The L.times.W surfaces of particles with L/H dimension ratios of 4:1 or less are further elaborated by surface checking between longitudinally arrayed fibers. The length dimension L is preferably aligned within 30.degree. parallel to the grain, and more preferably within 10.degree. parallel to the grain. The plant biomass material is preferably selected from among wood, agricultural crop residues, plantation grasses, hemp, bagasse, and bamboo.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT LICENSE RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support by the Small Business Innovation Research program of the U.S. Department of Energy, Contract SC0002291. The United States government has certain rights in the invention.