What if I told you that waste could be the treasure of our time? Lately, I’ve had this revelation that waste possesses significant untapped potential. The key lies in unlocking its value across various domains, whether it be economic, environmental, or social.
If we step back and take a broader perspective, we’ll realize that no waste truly escapes the confines of our planet. Isn’t that a daunting thought?
With waste continuously accumulating and our inability to control it, our surrounding ecosystem suffers, and the very foundations of our value chain begin to crumble. It’s undeniable that human activities bear a substantial responsibility in this situation.
The consequences of recent climate change and the rise in sea levels serve as harsh reminders that nature will not spare us if we continue to meddle with it. It is now more crucial than ever that we seek alternatives to our addiction to fossil fuel consumption. Fortunately, a promising solution has garnered significant attention:
biomass briquettes, a sustainable alternative to coal firing, crafted from agricultural and forestry residues.
Now, you might think, what’s the problem when we’ve the alternative we need? The actual challenge associated with biomass briquettes starts here.
We’ll comprehend all about it.
Composition of Biomass Briquettes and its Application
Biomass briquettes are compressed forms of various loose biomass sources.
Some loose biomass materials are rice husk, groundnut shell, sawdust, cashew shells, coffee husk, coir pith, cotton stalks, wood waste, peanut husk, bagasse, Municipal wastes, and other agro residues.
The specific composition of biomass briquettes varies depending on the raw material availability in a particular geographical area. In numerous developing nations, substantial quantities of agro residues are generated, including India.
In fact, India generates over 500 million tons of agricultural and agro-industrial residues every year, according to official data of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Unfortunately, due to inadequate utilization practices, these residues often become waste, resulting in environmental pollution. And, this is precisely why we harness them as primary raw materials for the production of briquettes.
Where are they used? Biomass briquettes are utilized in industries for heat generation and power production. They act as feedstocks in boilers, furnaces, and thermal power plants to produce steam or electricity.
How are Biomass Briquettes made?
The process involved in the briquette manufacturing are listed below:
- Collection: Biomass materials like agricultural residues and wood waste are collected from various sources.
- Drying: The collected biomass is dried to reduce its moisture content, making it suitable for briquette production. This can be achieved through natural drying methods or mechanical dryers.
- Preparation: The dried biomass is then prepared by crushing or pulverizing it to achieve a consistent size and improve its handling characteristics.
- Mixing: Depending on the desired properties, different biomass materials can be mixed together to create a well-balanced blend. This step ensures optimal combustion and energy efficiency.
- Binding Agent Addition: A binding agent, such as starch, lignin, or molasses, is added to the biomass mixture. This helps the briquettes hold their shape and provides cohesive strength during compression.
- Briquetting Process: The prepared biomass mixture, along with the binding agent, is fed into a briquetting machine. Pressure is applied, either mechanically or through heat, to compress the mixture into compact
briquettes of consistent shape and size.
- Cooling and Solidification: The newly formed briquettes are allowed to cool, allowing the binding agent to set and solidify. This step ensures the briquettes maintain their integrity and structural strength.
- Packaging and Distribution: Once cooled, the briquettes are packaged and prepared for distribution and use. They are typically packaged in bags or containers to maintain their quality until they reach end-users.
Biomass Briquettes Significance and Challenges
They significantly reduce air pollution and thus contribute to reducing carbon footprint. India being an agrarian economy, and if fuel generated out of its waste then its potential is tremendous.
It will reduce our dependence on foreign imports for coal, enhance energy security, all by reducing environmental impact at the same time. Also, it will enable farmers to earn an extra income and stimulate the growth of manufacturing industries as well which would proportionally increase employment opportunities.
Though it holds so much credible value, there are challenges associated with it.
Fragmented supply of raw materials hindering the availability of biomass briquettes for consumers.
Furthermore, the seasonal nature of biomass feedstocks adds another layer of complexity. Fluctuations in availability throughout the year contribute to unreliable briquette supply chains, making it difficult to ensure a consistent and steady flow of biomass briquettes.
In addition to these challenges, moisture concerns, logistical issues, and distribution complexities also play a role in impeding the efficient production and delivery of biomass briquettes.
The Indian government is actively involved in the promotion and development of biomass briquettes. Some well-known schemes are:
National Bioenergy Programme to continue from FY 2021-22 to 2025-26 which provided loans with reduced interest rates and subsidies for waste-to-energy projects.
The Indian government initiated SAMARTH (Sustainable Agrarian Mission on use of Agro Residue in Thermal Power Plants) to tackle carbon emissions in thermal power plants which focuses on utilizing agro-based residue, particularly biomass briquettes.
10% mandatory co-firing of agro-residue fuel instead of coal for boiler-using industries.
What does Buyofuel Do?
To fill the fragmented supply chain gap and resolve the other difficulties related to biomass briquettes or any other biofuel for that matter, Buyofuel was found. This online marketplace leverages technology to create a biofuel ecosystem all around India making biofuels viable for all stakeholders involved with it.
Be it raw materials aggregators, briquette manufacturers or briquette consumers, the platform is an one-stop shop for not only your briquette needs but also serves loose biomass materials such as sawdust, coffee husk, cashew shell, pellets, biodiesel, tyre oil etc. In fact, Buyofuel offers support to all biomass briquettes manufacturers in India and helps them procure sources and sell briquettes at the palm of hand.
Notably, Buyofuel also helped to set up a briquette manufacturing plant in Sankari, Tamil Nadu and operating seamlessly with an production capacity of 2000 MT per month.
In recent years, there has been a notable increase in production capacity of biomass briquettes, largely attributed to the support provided by the Indian government.
However, it is crucial to address significant logistical challenges to ensure sustained progress.
These challenges include raising awareness, encouraging grassroots participation, improving outreach efforts, and establishing reliable supply chains.
Tackling these issues will be instrumental in further advancing the adoption and utilization of biomass briquettes or biofuel as a whole.