Plant energy

Published: Saturday 31 October 1998

Fuel made from plants may soon provide cheap energy to the rural areas in developing countries. The alternative is a result of the research which has found a method to generate concentrated gas from farm waste. Robert Brown of the Center for Coal and Environment at the Iowa State University at Ames, USA, and his team has produced gas with a heating value of 14,800 kilojoules per cubic metre compared to a 4,500 kilojules produced in a normal gasifier. The increase in production became possible by separating the heating and the burning process. Traditional gasifiers on the other hand generate heat by burning the biomass in the air. The gas produced is diluted due to the presence of nitrogen in air. Gary Staats, a fuel development expert with the US department for energy, believes that the new gasifier will be successful in India because it generates a huge amount of bagasse, a fibrous residue left after sugar cane has been produced.

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