JAKARTADAILY.ID – Each year Indonesia produces 100 million tonnes of rice waste, of which 60 percent is burned in open fields, causing air pollution and has even been linked to lung cancer.
The amount burned is equivalent to approximately 85 Terawatts of electricity, which is enough to power Indonesia’s households 10 times over.
The magnitude of this energy potential encourages scientists at the Energy and Bioproducts Institute at Aston University to start a project to convert Indonesia’s unwanted rice straw into low-cost energy on a commercial scale.
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A consortium that includes Aston University aims to develop processes to capture more affordable energy from rice straw than ever before - and demonstrate that it can be done on a commercial scale.
Part of the process involves a biomass conversion technology called pyrolysis. This involves heating organic waste materials to high temperatures of around 500 °C to break them down, producing vapor and solid products.
Some of the vapor may be condensed into a liquid product called pyrolysis oil or pyrolysis bio-oil. Both the pyrolysis vapor and liquid bio-oil can be converted to electricity.
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Current methods convert just 35 percent of the thermal energy of rice straw to affordable electricity. However, a newly patented combustion engine designed by a consortium member, UK-based Carnot Limited, could see that doubled to 70 percent.
Energy extracted this way could help low and middle-income countries create their own locally generated energy, contribute to net zero by 2050, create new jobs and improve the health of locals.
The project will help develop a business model which could support companies and local authorities to produce local, cheap energy in Indonesia, and other countries with biomass capacity.
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Three academic experts from different disciplines at Aston University are involved in this initial project, which focuses on Indonesia’s Lombok Island.
Dr. Jude Onwudili, Dr. Muhammad Imran, and Dr. Mirjam Roeder are based at Aston University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI).
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