gasification: a solution to energy poverty and a replacement of fossil fuels
Carbon Neutral Commons seeks to use agricultural waste as a renewable fuel source, and as a way of keeping the carbon within it captured from the atmosphere. Our focus is on rice. Rice is the source of more than 1/5th of all calories that humans consume. Every year, farmers grow 738 million tonnes of edible rice and over 1 trillion kilos of rice husk and straw.
After harvest, only a fraction of the inedible plant matter is used for animal feed and making cement, but most of it is dumped, burned and left to rot. It releases carbon and methane back into the short-term carbon cycle.
Instead, we use technology to convert the energy in the biomass through gasification. Gasification is a process that transforms organic matter in a low-oxygen environment to produce heat, syngas and carbon-rich char. This energy can be directly used to run cookstoves, while the gas can be used for small-scale electricity generation and running agricultural equipment.
Right now most homes use LPG stoves. Unsubsidized, it costs families 39 pesos per day. Currently rice husk in the Philippines is either available for free, or sold for 1.3 peso per kilo (about US$.03).
Including the operational costs, we estimate it will cost 17 pesos per day to cook with a carbon neutral commons belonio gasifying stove. That is less than half the cost of LPG. Including the initial purchase of a C.N.C.-Belonio stove. This switch from fossil fuels pays for itself in just over 7 months. Consumers save, while the money they are spending stays within the local economy. We think this is a clear opportunity for entrepreneurs to manufacture and distribute stoves and to deliver rice husk from mills to consumers.
The potential scale is enormous — each year the world’s annual rice crop “waste” holds the same potential energy as over 2 billion barrels of crude oil. Using this biomass as fuel produces local direct benefit including new job opportunities, and lower emissions. It also reduces the dependency on volatile oil and gas markets, while keeping money spent on fuel within the local economy.
Cutting Edge Technology
January 2015: A rice husk gasifier supplying heat for partial drying of paddy in rotary dryer. Designed and developed by Engr. Alexis Belonio and Mr. Kenneth Dominado of Agribio Energy Philippines. The gasifier provides energy for drying while, at the same time, produces good quality carbonized rice husks. Partially dried paddy at 16-18% undergoes final drying to 14% in an in-storage bin dryer.
July 2013: A rice husk gasifier (seen on trailer in background) is supplying power to a 3" centrifugal pump for crop irrigation: an alternative to fossil-fueled water pumping designed by Engr. Alexis Belonio of CRHET-CLSU rice husk project. This gasifier can also power a 4" pump, and more.