Blog: Aston University seeks to transform life in rural India

In the latest Renewable Energy Focus blog, we learn about the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI)'s Pyroformer™, a mobile machine that uses a thermal treatment process for up to 100 Kg/h of biomass feed.

When coupled with a gasifier it will have an output of 400 kW – equivalent to providing power for 800 homes (based on a consumption of approximately 3,000 kWh per home).

A Pyroformer was operational through 2012 at Harper Adams University in Shropshire and an industrial size demonstrator is being constructed on the Aston University campus. It will be operational from autumn 2013.

EBRI, which is led by Professor Andreas Hornung, intends to help local farmers in India’s Punjab region stop burning their excess straw and instead convert it into oils, gas and biochar – a highly renewable process.

This burning is illegal in some places but it still goes on. So millions of tonnes of this straw, which is left over from wheat and rice harvests, is wasted when burned, mainly to clear the land. Not only is it wasted but it also kills off nutrients and adds to pollution. According to EBRI, about 116 million metric tonnes of this crop residue are burned each year.

With the Pyroformer, however, all sorts of benefits are at hand. The waste straw suddenly gains value and forms the basis for decentralised electricity – eliminating the need for expensive diesel. Of course, the air quality improves once the burning stops, and the oils produced can be used to drive engines to power farming equipments. And the biochar can be used as a fertiliser to increase crop yields.

A pilot project is on and EBRI is now looking for other countries where this technology could be applicable.



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