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Biofuels utility rising from houses to industries.

Byline: Yasir Ameen

The energy crisis is never-ending in Pakistan which has crippled national economy, business and lives of the masses but not for all as there some people in Pakistan who believes to survive at any cost not to bow down in front of any issue.

Such situation has led the country to explore new avenues for generating energy hence Pakistan has become one of top10 countries in terms of the use of biomass for energy with users of biomass growing in rural household to industrial areas.

There are interesting types of biofuels and waste derived fuel alternatives, which are presently being used in the industrial sector.

Waste Derived Fuels Waste: This derived fuel include residue from industrial or commercial operations, such as rubber, used tires, battery cases, plastic residue, municipal waste, etc.

Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF): This technology was primarily designed to reduce the amount of solid waste in the country, but is now being used to meet the energy demand of various sectors. RDF plants utilize municipal solid waste after screening for clay, dust particles, debris and metal, etc. The cement industry is the prime beneficiary of this alternate energy resource in Pakistan, as almost a quarter of the entire cement industry has started using RDF.

Tire Derived Fuel (TDF): TDF refers to using old shredded tires to produce fuel. The government does not allow the use of TDF in industries other than cement, as burnt tires emanate hazardous elements into the atmosphere. Surprisingly, import of rubber scrap is the main source of shredded tires, as no viable domestic avenue exists for recycling of used tires in Pakistan.40

The cement sector, which is presently using coal as the base fuel, has started to operate on TDF, not only because of its high energy content, but also because it is cheaper than coal.

Moreover, anecdotal evidence suggests that small steel firms are also using this resource illegally for power generation, as the process of steel melting requires uninterrupted power supply.

Poultry Waste: Chicken litter can also be used for energy generation by combustion, using purpose-built incinerators. The cement sector and brick kilns are currently utilizing poultry waste for energy generation in Pakistan.

The forward, poultry waste biogas plants are being set-up to provide electricity to large poultry and dairy farms.

Biofuels include plant tissue such as wood and farm waste - the latter include rice husk, rice straw, coffee husk, wheat husk, corn cob, sugarcane bagasse, cotton sticks, cane trash, etc.

Rice Husk: Rice husk and straw is the most productive agricultural by-product in rice producing countries. It can be used for power generation via steam or gasification, and is being utilized by the cement, paper and board, brick kilns and steel industries. Rice husks are also being used in textile sector via boilers to generate power for dying and bleaching purposes.

Bagasse: Bagasse of crushed sugar cane is considered to be an important source for generating power. Currently almost all sugar mills in Pakistan have in-house bagasse- based power generation capability, though many are using inefficient boilers and primitive pressure turbines.

In the future co-generation of power on commercial basis is in the pipeline, for which sugar mills will install steam economization equipment and infrastructure for more efficient use of bagasse for power generation. This will be done by replacing existing low-pressure boilers with new high-pressure technology to increase efficiency.

Cotton Sticks: Cotton stick is a major residue of the cotton crop, which, by weight, constitutes as much as 3 times the cotton produced. Energy derived from cotton sticks are currently being used by brick kiln operators and cooking fuel by farmers.

Besides wheat husk, corn cob, corn husk, maize stem, are other sources of power generation currently being used in the cement, paper and brick kiln industries.

In overall terms, such usage of agricultural and industrial by-products is a very positive step, as long as the resulting pollution is strictly regulated. Given the fact that user dependence on such renewable sources of energy is more common in the rural sector, this reduces the need to expand an already stretched national energy grid (be it power or gas). The Alternate Energy Development Board must focus on this issue to reduce rural household dependence (or expectations) on piped gas.?
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Publication:Energy Update
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 30, 2014
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