Biomass converted from chicken excreta an alternative to coal


Treated excrement from chickens, turkeys, and other poultry, when converted to combustible solid biomass fuel, could replace coal as a renewable energy source, says a study.

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The study, published in the journal Applied Energy, showed that treated poultry excrement could replace approximately 10 percent of the coal used in electricity generation, reducing greenhouse gases and providing an alternative energy source.

While biomass accounts for 73 percent of renewable energy production worldwide, crops grown for energy production burden land, water, and fertiliser resources. The researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel noted that environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem.

Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels, the researchers said.

They evaluated two biofuel types to determine which the more efficient poultry waste solid fuel is. They compared the production, combustion, and gas emissions of biochar, which is produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free furnace, with hydrochar.

Hydrochar is produced by heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 degrees Celsius under pressure using a process called hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC). HTC mimics natural coal formation within several hours.

We found that poultry waste processed as hydrochar produced 24 percent higher net energy. Poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, an important factor in replacing it as renewable energy source. This investigation helped in bridging the gap between hydrochar being considered a potential energy source toward the development of an alternative renewable fuel," Professor Amit Gross said.

With inputs from IANS.

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