Biomass briquettes are a biofuel substitute to coal and charcoal. They are used to heat industrial boilers in order to produce electricity from steam. The most common use of the briquettes are in the developing world, where energy sources are not as widely available. There has been a move to the use of briquettes in the developed world through the use of cofiring, when the briquettes are combined with coal in order to create the heat supplied to the boiler. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions by partially replacing coal used in power plants with materials that are already contained in the carbon cycle. Manufacturers mainly use three methods to create the briquettes, each depending on the way the biomass is dried out. Although biomass briquettes are usually manufactured, biomass has been used throughout history all over the world from simply starting campfires to the mass generation of electricity.
Biomass briquettes, mostly made of green waste and other organic materials, are commonly used for electricity generation, heat, and cooking fuel. These compressed compounds contain various organic materials, including rice husk, bagasse, ground nut shells, municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, or anything that contains a high nitrogen content. The composition of the briquettes varies by area due to the availability of raw materials. The raw materials are gathered and compressed into briquette in order to burn longer and make transportation of the goods easier. These briquettes are very different from charcoal because they do not have large concentrations of carbonaceous substances and added materials. Compared to fossil fuels, the briquettes produce low net total greenhouse gas emissions because the materials used are already a part of the carbon cycle One of the most common variables of the biomass briquette production process is the way the biomass is dried out.
People have been using biomass briquettes in Nepal since before recorded history. Though inefficient, the burning of loose biomass created enough heat for cooking purposes and keeping warm. The first commercial production plant was created in 1982 and produced almost 900 metric tons of biomass. In 1984, factories were constructed that incorporated vast improvements on efficiency and the quality of briquettes. They used a combination of rice husks and molasses. The King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation (KMTNC) along with the Institute for Himalayan Conservation (IHC) created a mixture of coal and biomass in 2000 using a unique rolling machine.
The use of biomass briquettes has been steadily increasing as industries realize the benefits of decreasing pollution through the use of biomass briquettes. Briquettes provide higher calorific value per dollar than coal when used for firing industrial boilers. Along with higher calorific value, biomass briquettes on average saved 30-40% of boiler fuel cost. But other sources suggest that cofiring is more expensive due to the widespread availability of coal and its low cost However, in the long run, briquettes can only limit the use of coal to a small extent, but it is increasingly being pursued by industries and factories all over the world. Both raw materials can be produced or mined domestically in the United States, creating a fuel source that is free from foreign dependence and less polluting than raw fossil fuel incineration. Environmentally, the use of biomass briquettes produces much fewer greenhouse gases, specifically, 13.8% to 41.7% CO2 and NOX. There was also a reduction from 11.1% to 38.5% in SO2 emissions when compared to coal from three different leading producers, EKCC Coal, Decanter Coal, and Alden Coal. Biomass briquettes are also fairly resistant to water degradation, an improvement over the difficulties encountered with the burning of wet coal. However, the briquettes are best used only as a supplement to coal. The use of cofiring creates an energy that is not as high as pure coal, but emits fewer pollutants and cuts down on the release of previously sequestered carbon. The continuous release of carbon and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere leads to an increase in global temperatures. The use of cofiring does not stop this process but decreases the relative emissions of coal power plants. Use in developing world.
The developing world has always relied on the burning biomass due it its low cost and availability anywhere there is organic material. The briquette production only improves upon the ancient practice by increasing the efficiency of pyrolysis.
Two major components of the developing world are China and India. The economies are rapidly increasing due to cheap ways of harnessing electricity and emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide. The Kyoto Protocol attempted to regulate the emissions of the three different worlds, but there were disagreements as to which country should be penalized for emissions based on its previous and future emissions. The United States has been the largest emitter but China has recently become the largest per capita. The United States had emitted a rigorous amount of carbon dioxide during its development and the developing nations argue that they should not be forced to meet the requirements. At the lower end, the undeveloped nations believe that they have little responsibility for what has been done to the carbon dioxide levels. The major use of biomass briquettes in India, is in industrial applications usually to produce steam. A lot of conversions of boilers from FO to biomass briquettes have happened over the past decade. A vast majority of those projects are registered under CDM (Kyoto Protocol), which allows for users to get carbon credits.
The use of biomass briquettes is strongly encouraged by issuing carbon credits. One carbon credit is equal to one free ton of carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere. India has started to replace charcoal with biomass briquettes in regards to boiler fuel, especially in the southern parts of the country because the biomass briquettes can be created domestically, depending on the availability of land. Therefore, constantly rising fuel prices will be less influential in an economy if sources of fuel can be easily produced domestically. Use in developed world.
Coal is the largest carbon dioxide emitter per unit area when it comes to electricity generation. It is also the most common ingredient in charcoal. There has been a recent push to replace the burning of fossil fuels with biomass. The replacement of this nonrenewable resource with biological waste would lower the carbon footprint of grill owners and lower the overall pollution of the world. Citizens are also starting to manufacture briquettes at home. The first machines would create briquettes for homeowners out of compressed sawdust, however, current machines allow for briquette production out of any sort of dried biomass.
Arizona has also taken initiative to turn waste biomass into a source of energy. Waste cotton and pecan material used to provide a nesting ground for bugs that would destroy the new crops in the spring. To stop this problem farmers buried the biomass, which quickly led to soil degradation. These materials were discovered to be a very efficient source of energy and took care of issues that had plagued farms. The United States Department of Energy has financed several projects to test the viability of biomass briquettes on a national scale. The scope of the projects is to increase the efficiency of gasifiers as well as produce plans for production facilities.
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