Rice husk being generated from agro processing industries is produced in several million tons which are currently burned in open fields. Only a small portion is being used for alternative applications such as cold storage, wall insulation, etc.
One of the sustainable ways of utilizing this waste rice husk is for power generation, where rice husks serve as raw materials in boilers.
What are the key sustainability benefits?
Use of rice husk minimizes the cost of electricity, while also minimizing the environmental impacts associated with burning of biomass wastes.
How does this work?
Electricity from power generation involves two technologies - combustion in steam turbine power plants and gasification in biomass gasifiers. Rice husk is pre-treated to reduce the size and densified or torrefied.
In the case of combustion, the rice husk is directly burnt in boilers in power plants for electricity generation.
In the case of gasification, rice husks are converted to syngas at temperatures of 700-900 deg C. The syngas produced is then converted to electricity using suitable engines or turbines.
Where is innovation needed (which part of the process)?
The challenge lies in commercial exploitation of this technology. Inconsistent raw material supply chain and project economics, in particular for gasification are the key challenges. Further, poor clarity on the efficiency of the existing technologies to harness the full potential of rice husk hampers the implementation of projects.
Technology innovations to enhance the efficiency of processes and business model innovations is critical.
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