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Using agro-waste residues, charcoal to provide alternative energy

Over times, there has been growing concern over indoor pollution which the World Health Organisation (WHO) said each year close to 4million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.

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According to WHO: “These cooking practices are inefficient and used fuel and technologies that produce high level of household air pollution with a range of health damaging pollutant including small soot particles that penetrate deep into the lung.”

While the fight against use of harmful energy mostly firewood is ongoing at the global level in order to curb pollution and felling of trees for energy consumption; government, stakeholders and academia have embarked on research to come up with an alternative sources of energy which is environmental friendly.

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Among the many alternatives are clean looking stoves and renewable energy sources of energy.

However, a new study conducted by UsmanuDanfodiyo University, Sokoto has revealed an innovation that can curb environmental hazards such as pollution posed by poor methods of agricultural wastes disposal and use of firewood with its adverse effect of desert encroachment, soil/gully erosion and climate change.

The study which was on ‘Combustion Profiles of Briquette from Blends of Charcoal and some Agricultural Wastes’, found that efficient and affordable good environmental friendly and highly durable briquettes can be produced from a mixture of the agro-waste residues and charcoal, to provide alternative energy source for domestic cooking in Nigeria.

According to the research, instead of burning agricultural wastes in the field, using the waste as a fuel source slows the advance of deforestation by eliminating the need to cut down trees for fuel wood.

It added that charcoal is viewed as an advanced fuel because of its clean-burning nature and the fact that it can be stored for long periods of time without degradation.

Speaking on the research work, Professor Umar AbubakarBirninYauri of the Department of Applied Chemistry (UDUS) said the study showed that the briquettes produced from agricultural wastes residue would make good biomass fuel and that blending the agro –waste residues with charcoal improved the combustion characteristics of the waste, the residence time of combustion and the calorific value.

The Professor of Analytical Chemistry who supervised the research work by MokiCosmasElinge said: “We realised that when you briquette these materials, they produce more energy than the individual substances we use, we got a very positive result.”

From the study, it was discovered that briquettes produced from rice husk, coconut shell, groundnut shell and corncob had more positive attribute of biomass fuel than other agricultural wastes residue.

On benefits of using agricultural wastes as an alternative cooking fuel, he notes that unlike wood, briquette charcoal is a smokeless fuel.

However, the UDUS researcher on agricultural wastes and charcoal blend stressed that since biomass can be put to better use rather than allowing them to litter the environment, research need to be conducted on different types of binder to ascertain their effects on the combustion characteristics of the fuel briquettes.

He also recommended research on the use of different machines to ascertain the best technology for the densification of the waste residues.

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