To Reduce Forest Fires, IIT Mandi Converts Pine Cones Into Bio Fuel
In an attempt to reduce pollution, IIT Mandi’s Centre for Innovative Technology for the Himalayan region (CITHR), upgraded a new innovative solution which uses pine needles as an alternate for biomass. The Centre for Innovative Technology for the Himalayan Region (CITHR) has come up with a unique machine which can produce briquettes and pellets from pine needles as the pine needles are harmful to the ecology, diversity, and economy in the Himalayan region.
Himachal Pradesh is home for a massive number of pine trees. During monsoon, the pine trees shed leaves, which end up covering the lands within the forest. The mound of needles also catch fire and becomes highly combustible, after it gets dry. With people residing in the area also burning waste, the dry pine cones and the burnt garbage can lead to a forest fire, thereby destroying most of the forest. Himachal Pradesh has experienced many incidents in the past relating to forest fire. The recent forest fire incident took place in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh on May 28 of this year where pine trees caught fire and later the light was pushed to the Dharamsala cantonment due to strong wind.
The project included four members Dr Arti Kashyap (Project Investor), Mr Pavan Tiwari (Project Engineer), Mr Rakesh Arya (Project Assistant), and Ms Pooja Thankur (Project Assistant). The government of Himalaya is also supporting the project as it includes sustainable factors. Besides the government has also announced a subsidy of 50 per cent for the ‘briquetting unit’ that has been set up in the campus.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Dr Arti Kashyap Principal Project Investigator, Centre for Uplifting Himalayan Livelihood (UHL) said, “The cost of the complete setup is around 5 lakh, but after the government subsidy, it reduced to 2.5 lakh. The briquetting unit set up on our campus has the capacity of 150 kg/hour with a connected load of 12 HP. The machine will be used for briquetting of pine needle as well as other biomasses. We tried and succeeded to prepare briquettes by more than ten locally available biomasses in our setup like sawdust, sugar cane waste, mess food waste, rice husk, corn cob etc.”
Further, she said, “Based on our observations and understanding, we decided to chop and compress the needles at high pressure. After many trials, we could finalize what kind of set up will work the way we wanted it to work. The process of briquetting and briquette machine setup is common and known to everyone. We only changed the pressure applied for compression, in the machine. We also designed a chopping machine for the cutting of the pine needle. By this, we succeeded in making very clean, dense and easily manageable briquettes and pellets with straight pine needles and with the mixing of pine needles with many other biomasses.”
The Centre for Innovative Technologies for the Himalayan Region (CITHR) is funded by CSTRI scheme of SEED division, of the Department of Science and Technology (DST, Government of India). The centre has been working on the waste pine needle to biofuel conversion techniques, from the last three years.
Dr Arti Kashyap also said, “We are working with the Government of Himachal Pradesh to set up such plants in whole Himachal. Himachal Pradesh government also announced the subsidy of 50% up to 25 lakh for one setup, on our request, to make the machine accessible to villagers. We are also combining the chopper and briquette machine to make machine accessible. Our centre is also working on the use of briquette in the gasifier, in collaboration with Infinite Energy Pvt. Ltd., Delhi”.
Adding she said, “The prepared briquettes can be directly used as a replacement of coal and wood, in an industry. It can be used as a fuel in the gasifier, which can be the replacement of LPG. According to our cost-benefit analysis, it reduces the cost of LPG up to 50%”.
Advantages of using biomass briquette:
- Using biomass briquette based gasifier over fossil fuels costs less.
- Renewability/biodegradability of biofuel.
- Biomass briquettes are safer than fossil fuels.
- It emits low toxic gases as compared to fossil fuel.
Besides, p ine needles based briquettes are environmentally friendly because it has decidedly less sulphur and other harmful elements. Pine cones are found in abundance in the Himachal region. It is easily combustible and also contributes to reducing greenhouse gases, caused by toxic gases of fossil fuels.