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Biomass Briquetting Technology
admin April 27, 2024 0 Comments

Biomass Briquetting Technology: Use, Type & Process

What is Briquetting?

Briquetting is the process of turning agricultural waste into uniformly shaped blocks called briquettes, which are easy to handle, transport, and store. This method involves compressing materials like coal dust or other burnable biomass materials to create fuel for starting fires. 

It also includes packing small pieces of minerals or metals into casting materials like resins, waxes, and metals to make them easier to work with during processes like grinding, polishing, and examining under a microscope.

Today, there’s a lot of industrial or agricultural waste that usually gets thrown out. However, with the introduction of biomass briquette plants, we can now turn this waste into something useful. 

These plants help reduce environmental pollution, which is crucial since pollution is rising rapidly and we lack effective ways to stop it.

Raw Material

We can make briquettes from various raw materials like sawdust, bamboo dust, bagasse, cotton stalks, coffee husks, groundnut shells, mustard husks or stalks, pine needles, rice husks, sugar mill waste, jute waste, coir pith, and other materials such as castor shells, red gram stalks, tobacco stems, tea waste, sander dust, tree bark, wild grasses, and shrubs. 

These materials can be compressed into briquettes on their own or mixed together, without needing any binding agents.

Briquettes are an eco-friendly and renewable source of energy. They are widely used in developed countries, indicating a growing global need for biomass briquettes as an alternative to other fuels.

Briquetting Process

Briquetting Machine Works

The concept of briquetting involves taking raw materials that are typically not very useful because they are too light or loose, and pressing them into solid, burnable shapes similar to wood or charcoal.

Briquettes are better than the original waste in terms of how well they burn and their overall physical quality. They burn more efficiently in traditional furnaces, help prevent the spread of insects and diseases, and reduce the risk of fires in rural areas.

Materials like rice straw, wheat straw, cotton stalks, corn stalks, sugarcane waste, and fruit branches are good for making briquettes. Among these, cotton stalks and fruit branches are particularly recommended. 

The briquetting process involves collecting these materials, cutting them down to size, drying them, and then compressing them with a machine.

Briquetting is a technique used to densify waste materials into useful forms. Materials such as coal, charcoal, wood chips, sawdust, bagasse, and various types of paper and stalks are compressed using a special machine to create uniform briquettes. 

These briquettes can be used to start fires and produce energy, and they come in various shapes and sizes depending on their intended use.

Steps Used for a Briquetting Process

The briquetting process includes several steps:

  • Collecting biomass waste.
  • Crushing it into small pieces.
  • Compressing it to make a briquette.
  • Drying the briquette.

First, the materials are crushed into very fine pieces so they can be compressed effectively and burn well. There are special machines available to crush these materials.

Briquettes are especially useful in places where fuel is scarce and expensive. Briquetting offers a cost-effective and simple way to get fuel in such areas.

A key benefit of a briquetting plant is that it doesn’t need any binder to hold the materials together to form a briquette. This is why it’s often referred to as a binder-less technology.

Briquettes are preferred over coal and other non-renewable fuels that are difficult to obtain.

The main advantages of briquetting include a high heat value that aids in easy ignition, low production costs, effective waste material management, and turning waste into a source of revenue.

Facts About Briquette​

A briquette is a dense block made from materials like coal dust, charcoal, sawdust, or paper, and is used as fuel or to start fires. The word “briquette” comes from the French word meaning “brick.”

Briquetting is the process of making these dense blocks. It uses compressed biomass waste from sources such as agricultural and forestry waste or coal bits. These briquettes are an eco-friendly alternative to non-renewable fuels.

Briquettes are safe for the environment and are used mainly as a substitute for fuels like coal in cooking and boilers. They can be made very dense, up to 1.2 g/cm³, compared to their original bulk density of 0.1 to 0.2 g/cm³, and burn cleanly, making them environmentally beneficial.

In India, the briquette industry is growing steadily, thanks to some successful ventures and the support of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).

 This has encouraged many entrepreneurs to invest in and improve briquette production processes and technologies.

Briquettes are combustible blocks created from shredded and compressed materials. Sometimes, substances like starch are used to bind these materials together, although compression alone can often be enough.

The process of briquetting or pelletizing improves the properties of biomass, making it a more compact and efficient source of renewable energy. This densification reduces the volume required for the same energy output, making biomass a more efficient fuel.

Benefits of Briquetting:

Major benefits from the utilization of briquettes as fuel are;

Briquettes are more efficient because they are compact and produce more heat than other fuels. They also burn longer and hotter than firewood and produce much less ash—only 2-10% compared to 20-40% for coal. This efficiency comes from their low moisture and high density.

Since briquettes are made by compressing combustible materials, they are denser, harder, and more compact than loose biomass, providing a more concentrated energy source than firewood or charcoal.

Briquettes burn slowly because they are compressed, which allows them to last longer than loose materials.

Making briquettes is straightforward, and they are available for purchase, but you can also make them at home using combustible materials, a binder, and a mold.

One unique feature of briquettes is that they burn without producing smoke, soot, or carbon deposits, making them cleaner. They also produce very little fly ash, depending on the materials used.

Briquettes are easy to transport because compressing the biomass waste reduces its volume significantly. Their consistent shape and density make them ideal for long-distance transport.

Storing briquettes is easy too; their uniform shape allows them to be neatly stacked and packed, making them clean to handle.

Briquettes are also cost-effective because they can be made from readily available plant and animal waste, making them cheaper to produce and buy.

Lastly, briquettes are a renewable resource. They are made from organic materials that are common and sustainable, ensuring a reliable source of eco-friendly fuel.

Briquetting Machine Cost

Briquetting press

An automatic briquette machine costs about Rs 15.5 lakh per unit.

The materials needed to make briquettes are widely available in agricultural countries.

In India, common materials used for briquettes include amla seeds, almonds, babool, bagasse, bamboo dust, coffee husks, castor seed shells, cashew shells, coir pith, cotton shells, rice husks, paddy straw, sawdust, soybean husks, jute waste, tobacco waste, groundnut shells, cotton stalks or chips, and mustard stalks. 

Fundamental aspects of Briquetting

Pressure Compaction:

Briquetting is a way to make materials denser and is one of several techniques known as densification technologies. 

This process is used to compress waste like wood residues, loose biomass, and other materials to increase their density for energy production. Based on how much pressure is used, briquetting can be categorized into:

  • High-pressure compaction
  • Medium pressure compaction, which includes heating
  • Low-pressure compaction, which uses a binder to help hold the materials together

Binding Mechanisms of Densification:

To determine if biomass is suitable for briquetting, it’s important to understand its physical and chemical properties, as these affect how it behaves as fuel. 

Key physical properties include moisture content, density, porosity, and heat-related properties. Important chemical properties include basic and detailed composition, and the energy content it can release when burned.

When biomass is compressed under high pressure during briquetting, the particles lock together tightly and stick to each other, creating strong microscopic bonds in the area of contact. 

This process involves forces of adhesion, where particles stick to each other, and cohesion, where particles stick to themselves.

Mechanism of Compaction:

In a screw extruder used for briquetting, a rotating screw pushes the material from the entrance, through a tube, and compresses it against a die, creating a high pressure along the screw.

During this process, the biomass rubs against the tube walls intensely. This friction, combined with the fast spinning of the screw (about 600 revolutions per minute), generates heat, which warms up the biomass.

As the biomass is pushed through the shaping die, it gets even more compacted, especially if the die is narrow, which squeezes the material tightly. 

The die is usually heated to ensure the biomass slides through smoothly and takes on the desired shape of the briquette. This heat also transfers to the biomass and the screw, helping in the compaction process.

Here are some common uses for briquettes in India:

Domestic Use: Many homes use briquettes for cooking and heating spaces and water.

Hospitality: Hospitals use briquettes to heat spaces and water and for cooking.

Ceramic Production: Ceramic industries use briquettes to make tiles, fire bricks in kilns, and for pot firing.

Textiles: The textile industry uses high-quality briquettes for bleaching and drying.

Commercial and Institutional Catering: Businesses like restaurants and caterers use briquettes for grilling, cooking, and heating water.

Food Processing Industries: These industries use briquettes for drying processes in bakeries, distilleries, canteens, and restaurants.

Industrial Boilers: Industrial facilities use dense briquettes to generate steam and heat.

Poultry: The poultry industry uses briquettes to keep chicks warm and for incubation.

Agriculture-Based Industries: Industries related to agriculture use briquettes for drying tea, curing tobacco, and milling oil, among other things.

Gasification: Many industries use briquettes as fuel in gasifiers to generate electricity.