CSIR bats for green ‘biocoal’

Scientists from one of the CSIR’s labs, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in a study published in the latest edition of The Current Science, said this conversion of paddy stubble into green product biocoal through torrefaction process would also help farmers to earn money using the agriculture residue.Against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call to the scientists to find a ‘concrete solution’ to deal with the problem of stubble burning, the country’s premier research agency, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has pitched in for conversion of paddy biomass into green ‘biocoal’ to be used in thermal power plants as one of the possible environment-friendly steps to check the menace which chokes Delhi and NCR region, particularly during winters.If adopted, the technology which is already in vogue in the western countries can help reduce not only consumption of fossil fuels, but also cut down the environmental pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Similarly, residue of other crops like wheat, sugarcane, oilseed, maize and cotton which is estimated to be around 500 million tonnes in the country, can be used as biocoal in thermal plants after torrefaction.Being agriculture-based country, India generates more than 600 million tonnes of biomass waste from different crops and produces 140 million tonnes of rice straw alone annually.

Most of the stubble burning takes place over three weeks in October-November, releasing particulates and smog-forming carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, which drift from the fields over almost the entire Indo-Gangetic plain. This pollution contributes around 12-60 per cent of particulate concentrations depending on the generation of other pollutants in different locations, winds, temperature and other local factors, according to reports.

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