IIT-Mandi has set up a briquette and pellet production plant on campus; the fuel is less harmful and more cost-effective compared to coal and wood.
Pine needles have often caused huge forest fires in Himachal Pradesh’s Himalayan region. But an IIT-Mandi innovation is helping combine pine needles with other biomasses and converting them into eco-friendly fuel.
The project, headed by Dr Arti Kashyap, Principal Investigator, Centre for Uplifting Himalayan Livelihood, transforms pine needles into briquettes and pellets that residents can use for heating purposes during winter.
In an interview with The Tribune, Dr Kashyap said: “These briquettes provide extra heat at a low cost and are less harmful to the environment when compared to wood or coal. In many small- and large-scale industries, the briquettes can be used as fuel in place of wood and coal. They can also be used to cook food.”
The institute has set up a briquette and pellet production plant on campus. The government of Himachal Pradesh has provided a subsidy up to 50 percent or Rs 50 lakh for the plant’s capital expenses.
“This assistance can be obtained by giving a letter [to] the office of the Regional Forest Officer,” Dr Kashyap said.
The subsidy will also benefit locals involved in collecting pine needles, as the government has shown interest in the collection process, according to The Better India.
Pine needles pose a great threat to the region – apart from being responsible for forest fires, they decompose at a very slow rate. The innovation will – along with helping conserve the region – provide a livelihood to the community.
IIT Mandi had organised a workshop to create awareness among local communities to work towards setting up a pine needle-based industry.