Forests are very much essential to all the living beings for various purposes. Each and every creature on earth is dependent on forests either directly or indirectly. They help in maintaining ecological balance and also help in the conservation of soil besides regulating the water cycle. There are innumerable forest products which are being used by the mankind in various fields including medicine,art,science,energy etc.
Forests are the major source for wood, paper and many other products. Even the biofuel industry has been seeing the forest for its cellulose to produce fuel for jets and automobiles. Biofuels,whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation are gaining attention due to the factors like oil price hikes and motivating scientists to turn the forest land into biofuel plantations.
Have you ever walked in the forest after the lumberjacks(a person who cuts trees into logs, or transports) work? if yes,you must be aware that the work usually leaves behind the piles of branches and tops. These are being used in the laboratory as compact pellets.
These kind of branches and tops are the major unexploited energy resources in Norway, a European country. Known as GROT in their Norwegian acronym,the samples of this waste are moved to ‘SINTEF-a largest independent research organization’, in-order to convert the waste into fuel.
In its raw form, it is regarded as a problematic and low-value fuel as it is so variable in composition. If this GROT is exposed to fire, it burns so instantly that it may even destroy a combustion chamber. But by processing it, the researchers are left with a valuable source of heat which is ready for use in industrial heating furnaces. This process is called torrefaction, a kind of extreme sauna for timber and vegetation.
The chopped-up GROT has been subjected to the process of torrefaction in a laboratory reactor, a steel apparatus. Through the highly insulated steel cylinders,the raw material has been heated to 275 oC.
According to the scientists, this heat treatment crushes the torrefied material into powder which can then be stirred around to form a homogeneous and combustion friendly biomass. The powder can also be pressed into pellets with a high energy content per unit of weight and volume. The heat process makes it a transport- and storage-friendly fuel.
Though, it seems to be problematic in terms of combustion technology, this technique improves a biofuel that is cheaper and much easier to handle. As the market price for GROT is low and due to its reduced transport costs, the scientists hope that the method will be competitive and will be used widely as a fuel for both households and industrial heating furnaces.
However, until the cost of producing this biofuel will be clear, it is impossible to predict the future of this energy source and the energy industry will not act upon it unto the price is reasonable, confirms the analysts.
If this fuel comes to the daily use, it would be the best top class biofuel that is obtained from the mother nature.