Technological Solutions for Management of Bio Residues

R&D study for ‘Utilization of Paddy Straw Briquettes as Fuel in Brick Kilns’

Punjab is an agricultural state producing about 19 million tons of paddy straw annually. The burning of paddy straw  in open fields is one of the major environmental concern for the State. Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) sanctioned us a project for carrying out R&D on use of paddy straw/paddy straw biomass mix as fuel in brick kilns. The scope of work included conducting studies on biomass briquetting in different ratios of paddy straw & other biomass, optimizing the maximum content of paddy straw in briquette that can be used as fuel without affecting the brick quality and establishing feeding & operating practices for brick kilns using paddy straw/ paddy straw rich briquettes as fuel. 

PSCST initially carried out 3 pilot trials in the southern districts of Punjab. About 2.80 lac bricks were fired in two kilns using briquettes made from a mixture of paddy straw and other biomass in different ratios (15:85; 30:70 & 50:50) along with loose biomass/coal. It was established that upto 50% biomass/ coal being used as fuel in brick kilns can be safely replaced with briquettes (containing paddy straw and other biomass in 50:50 ratio). Full scale trials were also conducted in two kilns, wherein 2.0 lac bricks were baked, using briquettes made from 100% and 50% paddy straw, thus replacing 75-90% conventional fuel with briquettes. The quality of fired bricks was at par with the conventionally fired bricks. The average Crushing strength of the bricks has been found more than 12 N/mm2 against the desired PWD requirement of 10 N/mm2. The Stack 

R&D for developing & testing Paddy Straw based Briquettes


Inspection of chopping machines

Improvement in Design & Performance of Paddy Straw Chopping Machine

We took up a R&D project with support of National Bank for Agricultural & Rural Development (NABARD) for improvement in design and performance of paddy straw chopping machines so as to make paddy straw fuel competitive in comparison to existing fuels being used in such applications. The objective was to reduce the chopping cost of paddy straw by improving the design & performance of chopping machines. 

The Council organized a Stakeholders’ Consultative Meet, wherein experts from R&D institutions, machinery manufacturers, brick manufacturers and industries using paddy straw in other applications were invited. It was unanimously concluded that there is a need to develop blades with improved metallurgy for getting better output. Further, Council in consultation with various R&D organizations and metallurgy experts finalized the metallurgy for Blade development. Six Blade sets with improved metallurgy and varying hardness were developed and tried at site. Out of the six trials, the performances of two blades i.e. bimetallic blades and spring steel blades were found to be the best. 

Demonstration of technology for utilization of Paddy Straw as green fuel

Based on R&D studies conducted with support of NABARD and PPCB, a proposal for demonstration of paddy straw based briquetting unit which can supply briquettes to a cluster of 7-8 kilns in two geographical regions of Punjab, was submitted to Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF & CC), Government of India under Climate Change Action Program (CCAP) which was sanctioned by MoEF & CC, GoI in July, 2016. 

The project is being implemented in two phases.  In the 1st phase, one demonstration unit is to be set up which would provide around 5000 Tons briquettes/annum. This would use 80% paddy straw in combination with other bio-residues i.e. Press Mud, Cotton Stalks, Mustard Straw, etc. The briquettes would be used by 7-8 brick kilns in the vicinity of the plant. Each of these brick kilns would replace 50% fuel being used by them with the paddy straw based briquettes. PSCST has already shortlisted an industry for setting up the paddy straw based briquetting unit in Central Punjab. The 2nd demonstration unit would be taken up under phase – II of project.

These two demonstration units would use 8000 tons of paddy straw to produce 10,000 Tons briquettes/annum which would be consumed by 14-16 brick kilns in the nearby clusters to produce around 8 crore of bricks per annum. This would lead to reduction of 8800 Tons of CO2 per annum. The successful demonstration of these units would help the State to replicate this model by setting up of paddy straw based briquetting plants.

Pilot Plant for Cellulosic Ethanol Production for Paddy Straw Management

PSCST has been making efforts to explore options for paddy straw management.  M/s Kuantum Papers Ltd, Hoshiapur had standardized a technology for ethanol production from paddy straw at batch scale at a capacity of 360 kg straw per batch. They approached PSCST for to support them in mobilizing funding for setting up a pilot plant for up-scaling the technology for ethanol production from paddy straw.  The Council provided project development support for mobilizing funds from Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in PPP mode. The project got sanctioned at total cost of Rs.18.3 Cr including industrial contribution of Rs.11.96 Cr. M/s Kuantum initiated the project in August 2015 in line with project mandate and has till date completed procurement/fabrication of plant & machinery and initiated validation of various steps of ethanol production. PSCST is undertaking field monitoring of progress of the project through constitution of Expert Committee comprising of experts from relevant domains. 

Techno-Economic Feasibility Study for Silica Recovery from Rice Husk Ash 

In Punjab, Ludhiana - the hub of the Indian Hosiery industry - is consuming around 4.50 lakh MT of rice husk as fuel in industrial boilers, thus generating around 0.7–0.8 lakh MT of Rice husk ash (RHA) annually. Presently, this RHA is being disposed off in low lying areas and along road sides which leads to deterioration of ambient air quality due to low bulk density thus posing problems to the nearby residents. Keeping in view the disposal of RHA problem as well as potential for silica recovery, Punjab Pollution control Board (PPCB) entrusted a project to the Council to study the Techno-economic feasibility for Silica recovery from RHA. 

During the study, it was found that there are around 277 industries in Ludhiana using boiler for their process requirement, out of which 11% were large scale units, 5% medium scale and remaining 84% were small scale units. Rice Husk, Pet Coke, Mustard Straw, Dung Cake, Wood etc are used as fuel for steam generation in their boilers for different industrial applications. The data revealed that as per industry-wise fuel utilization pattern, 37.54% industries were using rice husk, 17.68% industries are using pet coke and remaining 44.76% industries are using agro waste/wood/dung cake etc. as fuel in their boilers. The total consumption of rice husk in Ludhiana was estimated as 1498 TPD with RHA generation as 225 – 270 TPD (15-18% of rice husk consumption). PSCST invited Expression of Interest from Technology Providers/ Consultants/Manufacturers for recovery of silica fume/sodium silicate/silica from RHA in Punjab. As a result, following 4 technology providers showed interest to share their technology details:

  • M/s Usher Agro Eco Power Ltd., Mathura: M/s Usher has installed 5 TPD silica recovery plant from RHA at Chattha, Mathura (U.P.) based on the technologydeveloped by IISc, Bengaluru. 
  • M/s Bridgedots Tech Services Pvt. Ltd., Noida (UP): M/s Bridgedots has developed an innovative technology at lab scale to extract an advanced grade of silica (highly dispersible silica) from RHA by acid route for which an Indian patent has been applied.The samples of silica has been tested and approved by Goodyear Tyre Company for its application in energy efficient green tyres as filler material.
  • M/s Auro Associates, Vadodara: M/s Auro Associates has also developed silica recovery technology from RHA by using acid route at lab scale. M/s Auro Associates has shown interest todemonstrate the technology in Punjab.
  • M/s KGR Agro Fusions Pvt. Ltd., Ludhiana: M/s KGR Agro Fusions Pvt. Ltd., Humbran, Ludhiana claims to have 10 TPD plant to develop different grades of silica fume/silica powder from RHA for which it requires RHA in dry form (free from moisture) and un-burnt carbon should not have more than 3-4% for the production of silica fume. Silica fume is used as an additive in high strength concrete. 

After detailed deliberations with the above said technology providers and industry, the following business models have been evolved for the scientific utilization of RHA:

  • M/s Bridgedots and M/s Auro Associates are ready to demonstrate their technology in the State of Punjab at pilot scale with the help of State Government.
  • M/s. A.P. Organics Ltd., Dhuri (Punjab) has shown interest for putting up liquid sodium silicate plant with activated carbon as by-product, which can further be up-graded to silica recovery. 
  • M/s Vardhman Spinning & General Mills and M/s Poddar Tyres Ltd., Ludhiana has agreed to supply dry RHA to M/s KGR to run their plant to its optimum capacity.


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