By Rubina Obaid
The study on effective use of microwave heating in the production of biofuel and bio-oil has been carried out. However, bio-oil contains greater oxygen content and while applying the process of pyrolysis of biomass, it oxygenates far greater than compared to fossil fuels.
Production of biofuel is significantly important for switching towards environment-friendly energy sources. Fuel made up of renewable sources such as biomass and organic waste ensures the transition towards a decarbonized economy. Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) proclaimed on Monday that the researchers in their university have discovered a simple microwave process through which biofuel oils can be produced. The investigation regarding microwave-assisted biofuel processing achieved better results as compared to conventional approaches. A statement was issued by IITM in Chennai that the biofuel oils with high energy values were produced from two waste products, which are agriculture waste such as rice straw, bagasse, and discarded plastic. Due to the increased volatility of oil prices, political unrest, and adverse environmental effects of fossil-based fuels, created a grave need to seek sustainable renewable energy sources.
According to the research head Dr. R. Vinu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering “Biomass is the only renewable source of carbon on the earth with immense potential for the production of energy, chemicals and materials with zero carbon footprint on the environment. Agriculture waste products such as rice straw, sugarcane bagasse, and woodchips, among others, can potentially serve as bio-oil producing biomass.” Pyrolysis is one of the most common methods widely used to obtain bio-oil from biomass. It is a thermal decomposition of material at higher temperatures in a static atmosphere that changes the chemical composition of the material. Through this process, biomass components are converted into biofuel components in minimum processing time. The study on the effective use of microwave heating in the production of biofuel and bio-oil has been carried out. However, bio-oil contains greater oxygen content and while applying the process of pyrolysis of biomass, it oxygenates far greater than compared to the fossil fuels.
Therefore, Dr. Vinu further added that, To make bio-oil competitive with fossil fuels, their oxygenate content must be reduced and hydrogen content is increased. Mixing biomass with hydrogen-rich materials during pyrolysis can conceivably make biomass-derived bio-oil comparable to fossil-derived fuels in calorific value and chemical/physical properties. Microwave administers the pretreatment method of various organic wastes and sludge that is processed by anaerobic digestion along with enhanced production of methane. The procedure further reduces foaming and diminishes the amount of pathogen in the sludge. In addition to this, the successful application has been observed for biomass transesterification reaction for continuous setup, with shorter time and higher yield. Better quality of product is obtained through this process as compared to the conventional heating process.
Rich content of hydrogen in plastic allows efficient conversion to low oxygenated bio-oils. In the process of pyrolysis of biomass plastic serves as the supporting material that also serves further purposes to produce bio-oil with better properties and help in repurposing the used plastic. Through the process of co-pyrolysis of biomass and plastic, along with an increased calorific value of fuel helps in reducing char formation while enhancing the efficiency of the whole process and the yield. Microwave oven served the purpose of applying the process of co-pyrolyse on a variety of organic waste to biomass that includes rice straw, sugarcane, bagasse, groundnut shell, sawdust, and also wood from trees.