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Sasidhar Synopsis: This paper briefly explains how locally available biomass could be utilized for maximum value addition in widely distributed production base near the end product consumption centers. These methods are eligible for carbon credits for using the renewable biomass and also sequestration of carbon present in biomass. Biomass is a product of photosynthesis using atmospheric carbon dioxide, water and solar energy. Its primary form in nature is entire botanical kingdom constituting plants, trees (wood, twigs, leaves, seeds, flowers, grasses, kernels, etc.), algae, phytoplankton, etc. All zoological kingdom constituting humans, cattle, terrestrial animals, aquatic creatures, etc. is also biomass in secondary form which is basically derived from primary biomass. The primary biomass is used by mankind as major source of food and energy. However its use as source of energy in modern age has diminished due to availability of alternate fossil fuels such as natural gas, peat, coal, crude oil, etc. These fossil fuels are also used as raw materials in the manufacture of organic chemicals, synthetic fibers, synthetic rubbers, plastics, fertilizers, etc. which have wide application in present day civilization. These fossil fuels act as source of hydrogen in these industrial products. Fossil fuels usage is contributing to global warming which is the major concern of present world. There is no other natural process to recycle the gaseous carbon emitted in to atmosphere back to earth other than photo synthesis by producing biomass. Theatrically, the usage of carbon content in fossil fuels and biomass should not exceed the carbon content in generated biomass annually to prevent global warming. That means we need to build up biomass reserves on the earth by making it greener wherever possible both on land and water. Future depends on how mankind would find ways to utilize non edible biomass to produce various industrial products and to sequestrate carbon present in biomass. Similarly wind, solar, tidal, wave, hydropower, etc energies are to be used in place of fossil fuels in large scale to meet the ever increasing energy demands of present civilization Many countries (India, East Asia, south and central African countries, South American countries) are not endowed with adequate crude oil and natural gas reserves but with good biomass generation potential. These countries should use the inedible biomass matter to generate hydrogen gas for the production of industrial products. This would reduce their dependence on imported crude oil and also contribute in mitigating global warming. Presently, the non woody biomass such as inedible leaves, inedible crop waste, twigs, etc are either burnt or allowed to degenerate in the fields emitting green house gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. Cattle droppings, human excreta, household garbage, bagasse, poultry droppings, chicken feathers, waste hair, used tires, waste paper, etc are also biomass which can be used in the production of hydrogen. The spent dung from gobar gas plants (anaerobic digesters) can also be used in production of hydrogen gas. In India, the dry inedible biomass availability is nearly equal to all the fossil fuels consumption which is approximately 750 million tons per year. The inedible biomass basically contains cellulose (C6H10O5), hemi cellulose, lignin, chlorophyll (C55H72O5N4Mg), etc whose molecules are predominantly made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and
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oxygen elements. Inedible biomasses generally contain 5 to 6% of hydrogen by weight. Inedible biomass can be converted in to hydrogen gas by age old technologies (carbonization / pyrolysis or gasification) to produce hydrogen gas, charcoal and organic liquids. Biomass carbonization: This is well known technology to produce charcoal and town gas in olden days. The biomass is carbonized either at low temperature (up to 600 deg C) or at high temperature (up to 1200 deg C) in the absence of oxygen. The products of biomass carbonization/slow pyrolysis are charcoal (25% by wt), 850 Nm3 town gas per ton of dry biomass and organic liquid chemicals (30% by wt). The town gas contains hydrogen (45% by wt) with gross calorific value of 3000 Kcal/Nm3. Bio-oil production: Bio mass can be converted in to bio-oil / pyrolysis oil by the latest fast pyrolysis technology with conversion efficiency up to 70%. Bio-oil has only 50% of heating value of crude oil and also unstable liquid. The bio-oil is rich in Oxygen content and also acidic unlike crude oil and its derivatives. Extensive research is being done to make bio-oil suitable for mobile vehicles though it can be used for stationary low and medium speed diesel engines and gas turbines with minor changes. The production cost of bio-oil is around Rs 10 per kg when the dry biomass cost is Rs 2.5 per kg. Pyrolysis oil can be separated in to a water soluble fraction rich in oxygen content and a heavier pyrolytic lignin. Pyrolytic lignin can be used as feed stock to produce naphtha, diesel, etc by hydro-processing (i.e. reaction with Hydrogen). Hydrogen is produced from water soluble fraction of pyrolysis oil. The garbage collected in Indian cities and towns has higher water content and biomass. This type of wet / watery garbage is converted commercially in to Bio-oil / Bio-crude by Hydro thermal upgrading (HTU) method which is also a type of pyrolysis process. Biomass gasification: Biomass is gasified in the presence of steam and air to generate producer gas/synthetic gas. Most of the biomass is converted in to producer gas which is rich in hydrogen (15% by wt) with gross calorific value of 1500 kcal/Nm3. In gasification process, the available thermal energy is utilized to produce more hydrogen by splitting water molecules for optimum hydrogen yield. The inorganic nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) present in the biomass are accumulated in the produced ash which can be used as fertilizer. Hydrogen gas uses: The hydrogen gas generated from biomass can be used in the production of various petrochemical feed stocks to manufacture organic chemicals, synthetic fibers, synthetic rubbers, plastics, etc. Urea fertilizer can also be produced from Ammonia which is synthesized from Hydrogen and Nitrogen extracted from air. Huge quantity of Urea (NH2CONH2) is required / consumed in agriculturally rich countries which are incidentally biomass rich countries. Thus locally available biomass is utilized for producing urea near consumption centers without depending on costly natural gas and crude oils. 100 million tons of dry biomass can produce 4 million tons hydrogen gas which can produce 40 million tons of Urea. Also the future fuel of automobiles is Hydrogen which is zero pollution fuel.
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Charcoal uses: Charcoal / bio-char in place of liquid fuels can be used in the coal fired power generation plants as start up and flame stabilization fuel. Nearly one kilolitre of liquid fuel is used for generating one million Kwh of electricity in coal fired thermal power stations. Charcoal has very good calorific value of 7500 kcal/kg and easily ignitable to replace liquid fuels. Nearly 700,000 tons of charcoal can be used in coal fired thermal power stations of India saving 500,000 kilolitres of costly liquid fuels. In agriculturally rich areas, the agro waste is burnt in fields to get rid of surplus biomass. This activity is not generating any economic value and also contributing to global warming. Instead of burning biomass it can be used for producing bio-char. Many soils (ex. red soils and lateritic soils) are infertile due to lack of organic substance. These soils can be made fertile soils by adding bio-char powder in the soil. Bio-char addition in the soil neutralizes the acidity of soils and improves the useful salts holding capacity. Bio-char being refractory carbon would remain in the soil for many years thus working as carbon sequestration. This method of using biomass should be eligible more than 100% carbon credits for using renewable biomass in generation of hydrogen and energy without releasing all the carbon in to atmosphere. Thus most of the bio-char produced from biomass can be used in enriching the infertile soils which will generate more biomass. China and western countries consume / import huge quantities of charcoal for cooking and metallurgical requirements. Charcoal or bio-char briquettes command good prices (above 200$/ton) in these countries. Ethanol: Ethanol / ethyl alcohol is fermented from biomass which is rich in starch / carbohydrates content. It is also consumed by humans in large quantities as liquor. Ethanol can be used as transport fuel by blending in diesel and gasoline fuels. Presently ethanol is produced from food grains and sugarcane which are costly and predominantly used as food source. The economics of using food grains and sugarcane as fuel source is not favorable since they fetch more value as food source in India. Sugar cane is a long duration irrigated crop and consumes lot of water. Cultivation of sweet sorghum which is seasonal dry land crop is a better source of biomass and Ethanol production in huge quantities for meeting the needs of transport fuel. Bio-diesel: The inedible oil seeds produced by plants and trees can be the source of fuel for mobile vehicles to replace costly imported diesel and petrol (gasoline) fuels. The non edible vegetable oils extracted from Jathropa, Karanj (Hindi) / Honge (Kannada) / Koroch (Pongamia pinnata), Algae, etc can be used directly by blending 20% oil in diesel fuel or can be converted in to bio-diesel by esterification of these vegetable oils to replace diesel and petrol fuels totally. Esterification is achieved by adding methanol or ethanol to the vegetable oils. The estimated vegetable oil yields of bio-diesel crops are
y y y y y y
Soybean: 0.4 tonnes oil/ha.year Rapeseed: 0.8 tonnes oil/ha.year Jathropha: 1-1.5 tonnes oil/ha.year (non edible) Palmoil: 4 tonnes oil/ha.year Koroch / Karanj: 3 ± 4.5 tonnes oil/ha.year (non edible) Algae: 10-25 tonnes oil/ha.year (non edible)
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The most promising sources of bio-diesel are Algae and Koroch (Bengali) which need not compete with other crops and natural forests for land, water, sunlight, etc. Algae: Algae (pond scum) are tiny cellular plants suspending in water (fresh, brackish and sea water) which absorb dissolved carbon dioxide in water to produce biomass by photosynthesis with the help of sun light. Algae grow fast and many species of algae contain up to 60% of its dry mass as Bio-diesel (lipids / fats). The de-oiled algae cake is rich in proteins and is good source to augment proteins in cattle and poultry feed. Extensive research has taken place on algae cultivation in developed countries to demonstrate the farming technology but it could not be commercialized in these countries because of limited favorable weather conditions and high cost of labor. However India has favorable tropical climate to cultivate algae throughout the year on its sandy coastal areas using abundantly available sea water or brackish water. The only external raw material required is carbon dioxide gas in Indian climate. The gobar gas produced in rural areas by using cattle dung contains 50% carbon dioxide gas and 50% methane. When this gobar gas is used in electricity generation by diesel engines, the available exhaust gas is the cheap source of carbon dioxide gas for algae cultivation in rural areas. The combustion gases from Biomass / bio char burning can also be cheap local source of carbon dioxide gas. The skilled labor cost in rural India is also nominal compared to western countries. Algae cultivation is not new in India. Algae are used to treat the sewage water in natural oxidation ponds to produce oxygen to meet the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD). Algae produced in the oxidation ponds are not yet harnessed for Bio-diesel production in India. Indian climate is very much suitable for Algae cultivation similar to natural oxidation ponds. Spirulina which is an alga rich in proteins content is commercially cultivated in India. Koroch: Koroch in Bangladesh is a fresh water flooded tree. This tree can grow on lands which are water inundated up to1.5 meters depth for six months at a stretch. The seedlings can survive under water during the long submergence period. Koroch tree reaches 20 meters height and lives for 100 years. The dry seed pods contain 25% toxic vegetable oil which can be used as bio-diesel. Koroch / Honge is a tree native of India whose oil is used in illumination lamps in olden days. Since Koroch is a flooded forest tree, it can be grown in our man made water reservoirs up to a depth of 1.5 meters without the need to compete with land based food crops. India has nearly 30,000 square km of manmade water bodies and many water storage reservoirs are yet to be built to harness the water resources fully. The reservoir bed up to 1.5 meters depth are exposed for seven months in a year when the stored water in these water bodies are used for irrigation, drinking water, etc, Conclusion: The above technologies which are age old and well known for bio mass gasification have not become popular due to incorrect end uses. It is always thought of using the producer gas directly for driving diesel/petrol engines to generate electricity / motive power considering its energy value but not its richness in hydrogen gas which is highly value added item as petrochemical feed stock. High crude oil prices and carbon credits eligibility would further improve the economic viability of biomass derived hydrogen gas usage. Using biomass would work out more economical in India due to availability of cheap skilled labor in rural areas. 4 of 6
India can become self sufficient in its energy requirements if one year oil imports cost (50 billion US$) is invested on pyrolysis oil and bio-diesel production technologies/infrastructure to meet its energy needs. India is endowed with tropical climate to sustain these renewable and carbon neutral energy resources. ------------------References: (Note: Copy and paste the links in the browser if not working directly) http://www.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/tech_validation/pdfs/fcm01r0.pdf Properties. Hydrogen
http://www.slideshare.net/arslanafzal321/lecture2-wood-charcoal-and-peat-www07-mettk biomass carbonization and gasification processes. http://www.woodgas.com/proximat.htm Proximate and ultimate analysis of biomass. http://www.forestbioproducts.umaine.edu/documents/37779.pdf production: A technology assessment and economic analysis. Large-scale pyrolysis oil
http://www.nt.ntnu.no/users/skoge/prost/proceedings/ecce6_sep07/upload/40.pdf parameters for the circulating fluidized bed (CFB) pyrolysis of biomass´. http://nariphaltan.virtualave.net/Gasifier.pdf Sugarcane leaf and bagasse gasifiers
http://www.nd.gov/ndic/renew/projects/r-002-006rep6-09.pdf Renewable electrolytic fertilizer production. http://www.biochar.org/joomla/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=24 Slash and char http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta Nutrient rich soils of Amazon http://www.cyberiad.net/library/pdf/bk_ocm_articleaspublished.pdf ³Enhancing fish stocks with wave-powered artificial upwelling´ ³Fresh water flooded forests´ http://www.scribd.com/doc/58789361/Rain-Water-Harvesting-byFreshwater-Flooded-Forests http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-hSl59ET2A&feature=related vedio on Biochar / Agrichar / Terra preta Opportunities for biorenewables in petroleum refineries http://www.pyne.co.uk/Resources/user/PYNE%20Newsletters/001338_Pyne%20p4-7.pdf The Shell company HTU process for bio-crude oil. http://www.cpi.umist.ac.uk/eminent/Confidential/meeting/RigaMeeting/Riga%20Workshop/Prese natieHTUBiofuel.ppt
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Sweet harvest ± Sweet sorghum crop http://www.agronomy.unl.edu/newfacultystaff/research/sweetsorghum/sweetsorghum-article.pdf Bio diesel extraction from Algae http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding2008/2008_WS5_04_Rengel.pdf Pongamia Pinnata (Honge) bio-diesel in India http://www.goodnewsindia.com/Pages/content/discovery/honge.html Pongamia Pinnata ± The bio-diesel tree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millettia_pinnata (Tips to get more information: Search with relevant words/terminology on any topic in internet search engines & for pictures / video search in µGoogle image / video¶.) Note: This paper is first written in February 2010 and subsequently updated
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