A recent study conducted by scientists from the Regional Engineering College (REC), Kurukshetra, reveals that all energy needs of a village can be met locally from the available biomass, using fluidised bed technology -- an industrial technique for efficient combustion.
The technology involves suspending the material to be burnt by blowing an upward stream of air through it in a "reactor". The material in the resulting fluidised bed, which resembles a boiling viscous mass, is more accessible to chemical reactions than the same material in a solid, static state. Up to 98 per cent combustion is achieved through this process. Further, the process is environmentally benign since the emissions of nitrogen oxides are negligible.
A survey conducted by the REC in Birohar village in Kurukshetra district revealed that the biomass required for a plant of 3 megawatt capacity based on 35 per cent overall efficiency is 25 tonnes per day.
Rural energy requirements can be met with smaller plants based on fluid bed technology. Small steam generators or package boilers, for instance, can be designed to produce steam for power generation. Similarly, standalone external furnaces or thermal fluid heaters can be set up to produce hot water to meet domestic and village industry requirements.
Meanwhile, the Union ministry of human resource development has also started projects to build pilot plants based on fluidised bed systems for rural development.
---R K Singhal is the chief project coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Development Cell, Regional Engineering College, Kurukshetra.