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Scientists turn garden waste into fuel pellets

Read time: 2 mins

A new study by researchers from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai has, for the first time, demonstrated an efficient way to convert garden waste into fuel pellets that could be used for cooking.

Many urban households, and a few rural ones, sport a garden in the backyard, often populated with flowering and vegetable plants and some trees. The gardens also are a hotspot for a host of biodiversity, like butterflies, birds, reptiles and rodents, often attracted to the greenery that grows there. Garden owners are also fond of keeping their gardens clean, often trimming the overgrowth and cleaning off fallen leaves, twigs and other biomass. The garden waste that is generated after cleaning is usually burnt or disposed off. What if all that waste needn’t be wasted but can instead be put to good use, by converting it into fuel for cooking?

Scientists from IITB have been exploring ways to do exactly this. In their new study, the scientists have developed a method to convert the garden waste biomass into fuel pellets that could be burnt for usable energy. The fuel pellets that are formed could be used in stoves as an efficient substitute to firewood and other fuels.

Various parameters, like moisture content, milling size and die size, of the pellets that were formed were further probed for optimal performance using regression models- a statistical tool. Their study showed that an increase in the moisture content of the biomass affected the durability of the final product. It also revealed a biomass moisture content of around 6% and a die size of 15mm were ideal for the pellets formed to perform efficiently. The pellets were also probed under a Scanning Electron Microscope to study the effect of moisture on the final product, which showed the pellet particles sticking closely together when the moisture content in the biomass was considerably low.

If commercialized, the technology could be used as a suitable substitute for cooking gas and other fuels in low income households.

“We deduced from the combustion test that garden waste pellets may be conveniently used in a residential cookstove” claim the researchers about their new technology