Now produce oil from paddy stubble

IIT Ropar and Aston university unveil new technology for farmers

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Ropar | Published:July 3, 2013 10:57 pm

In what is expected to put an end to open field burning of tonnes of paddy and wheat stubble across Punjab,IIT Ropar and Aston University,UK has come up with an offer the state’s farmer cannot ignore.

A new renewable energy technology that uses the stubble as raw material and produces “bio-oil”,“bio gas” and “bio-char”. All these are combustible and can be put to use by the farmer at his farm or sold commercially.

The technology,painstakingly downscaled from an industrial size set up at the European Bio-energy Research Institute at the Aston University into truck sized portable units,was unveiled at village Khuaspura near Ropar today.

The first unit housed in a container in the village has taken over two years to be perfected by a team of scientists led by Sudhakar Sagi from the Aston University in collaboration with the department of mechanical engineering,IIT Ropar.

This “Pyroformer” uses intermediate pyrolysis technology to convert pallets of the paddy and wheat leftovers into bio-oil. The oil is then blended with regular diesel and out comes an oil product which can be used in generator sets,lister engines. The oil being extracted out of paddy stubble from the unit in Khuaspura is being used to run a generator which is lighting up a whole school in a nearby village.

The other products given out in the process are bio-char- a form of coal which can be used both as a fuel in small domestic stoves or even as a fertlizer. The bio gas produced can be used to produce electricity or burnt for light and heat.

“This project is called EnergyHarvest as each of the product that comes out has commercial value. What was considered a waste and was burnt causing serious pollution problems can now be put to use,” said Dr Sagi.

The potential for such a technology in Punjab is enormous. “In Punjab 116 million tonnes of agriculture residue is burnt each year. This can be used to produce at least 20 GW of electricity using this technology,” said Prof Andrea Hornung Director EBRI,who has been working on the technology for decades. The technology is also “flexible” with several possible versions than can be put to use commercially.

“For all the three products to come out in almost equal amounts an optimum temperature is maintained. If we increase the temperature more gas is produced and if lowered more bio- char is produced,” said Hornung.

The technology available as a pilot phase in three villages Khuaspura,Hussainpur,Ladal already has scientists. “The Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana would be glad to adopt the technology and extend it to the farmers. It’s a revolution,” said a scientist from PAU at the launch.

Local entrepreneurs too are taking a lot of interest in the technology’s business model. “The capital cost of the unit is about Rs 20 lakh and running cost Rs 10 lakh a year which includes cost of the palletization and the diesel which is blended with the oil. The annual profit made by the entrepreneur by using a 20 kg per hour capacity unit for 6750 hours in one year will lead to a profit of over Rs 7 lakh,” explained Dr Prasantha Dey of the Aston Business School.

The Pyroformer is housed in a container that can be transported between villages and can be easily operated by the villagers themselves. “The unit runs on a touch screen control and not more than two persons are needed to run it,” said Sagi.

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