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Bio Energy

A. Bio-Energy: Bioenergy is one of the largest and fastest growing renewable energy sources. The use of Biomass for power generation or cogeneration (CHP), Biomass gasification, Biogas, Bio-methanation and Biomass to Liquids/Bio-oils (BTL) are some of the emerging technologies. Pyrolysis of biomass to generate Bio-oils and Fischer Tropsch reaction to produce Hydrocarbons have been in the limelight and show immense promise.

Biomass is an important energy source that contributes more than 14% of global energy supply. Biomass availability in India is estimated at about 500 million tons per year, of which 120-150 million tons is available for power generation. According to MNRE, about 18 GW of power can be generated from agro-based residues, including agricultural and forestry issues. Total grid interactive installed biomass capacity in India touched 3,796 MW (as of December, 2013, MNRE). This includes 1,284.7 MW of cumulative biomass power generation capacity and 2,512 MW of cumulative bagasse cogeneration capacity. The total off grid biomass (non bagasse) capacity, including gasifiers (MWEQ) was 669 (as of December, 2013, MNRE).

The National Policy on Biofuels was approved in December 2009, which encourages the use of alternative fuels to supplement conventional transport fuels (gasoline and diesel for vehicles ) and targets 20% of bio-fuel blending (bio-diesel and bio-ethanol) by 2020. As part of the 12th Five Year Plan, the MNRE plans to initiate National Bioenergy Mission, in association with state governments, public and private sectors, and other key stakeholders, to promote the ecologically sustainable development of Bioenergy. Second generation biofuels derived from non-food sources such as jatropha, karanja and micro-algae are suitable options for addressing energy security and environmental concerns. The new biofuels policy is expected to incentivize the plantation of non-edible oil seeds, over about 11.2 million hectares of land, and will result in the addition of 13.38 million tons of bio-fuel. (E&Y, 2013).

Some of the major technologies used within this are:

1. Biogas:


(Image source: MNRE, India)

Bio-gas is produced through a bio-chemical process in which certain types of bacteria convert the biological wastes into useful bio-gas. Since the useful gas originates from biological process, it has been termed as bio-gas. Methane gas is the main constituent of biogas. The process of bio-gas production is anaerobic in nature and takes place in two stages- acid formation stage and methane formation stage. In the acid formation stage, the bio-degradable complex organic compounds present in the waste materials are acted upon by a group of acid forming bacteria present in the dung. Since the organic acids are the main products in this stage, it is known as acid forming stage. In the second stage, groups of methanogenic bacteria act upon the organic acids to produce methane gas. Methane is combustible and can produce heat and energy when burnt. Biogas can meet the cooking need and also can be used for electricity generation.

2. Biomass Gasifier

bio gasification

Biomass gasification is a thermo chemical process. In biomass gasifier, a variety of biomass such as wood waste, agriculture waste like stalks and roots of various crops, maize cobs ctc are dried, pyrolysed, oxidized and reduced under some conditions of temperature and limited oxygen supply. A gaseous mixture rich in carbon monoxide and hydrogen referred to as producer gas is formed. The gas produced is then cooled, cleaned and can be used for power generation in conjunction with 100% gas based engines or dual fuel engines coupled with generators.

3. Bio-Fuels:


Biofuels are one of the most highlighted forms of bioenergy as they supplement Hydrocarbons. New technologies are being developed constantly such as the use of heterogeneous catalyst in Bio-diesel production; cellulosic ethanol, butanol, algae as a feedstock for biofuels. High yields of quality feedstock and its production at low costs & to ensure its adequate availability are some of the most important issues for competitive production of Biofuels. There is an increasing global emphasis to develop technologies to enhance yields, efficiencies and reduce cost of production so as to make Biofuels competitive with fossil fuel. New technologies such as pyroalysis of biomass to generate Bio-oils, use of heterogeneous catalyst in Bio-diesel production and single step production of Di-methyl-ether have started occupying centre stage. There is a need for R&D in the area of Applications & Utilization of Biofuels so as to make them compatible with the existing engines, other equipment and machinery for application in various sector including heating & power generation, industry, agriculture, transport, etc.


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