Engineering grad highlights biomass potential as source of alternative fuel

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds


BRUNEI should look into making biomass solid wastes as one of the sources for alternative fuel, said a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB).

In a presentation delivered at the institution’s multi-purpose hall, Md Hafiz Bakar shared his research which focused on ways on how waste products could be used for the benefit of the country.

Titled “Characterisation of biomass solid wastes of Brunei Darussalam for their pyrolytic conversion into liquid oil”, the research aimed to understand the properties of agricultural waste products (biomass) as source of “liquid” fuel. This to help prevent Brunei from being heavily-reliant on oil and gas.

Likewise, the research also showed that “development of biomass energy can provide a solution to disposal problems as well as it can generate renewable energy and reduce carbon emission - two major global concerns of the present day world”.

Biomass means plant and animal material, especially agricultural waste products, used as a source of fuel.

Based on the presentation of the research, it was noted that biomass could be an ideal alternative for the Sultanate’s use of oil and gas as there is abundant unused biomass available in the country and this has a high potential to be used as a feedstock for pyrolysis purposes”.

Some of the biomass solid wastes selected in the project were coconut shell and fibre, corn fibre, rice husk and sawdust.

The research said total wastes production of these selected biomass in Brunei in 2012 were coconut shell at 11,812.3 kg, coconut fibre at 25,101.2 kg, corn fibre at 128,279.8 kg, rice husk at 351,204.0 kg, and sawdust at 65,240.6 cubic metres.

The biomass is to be used as feedstock for pyrolysis purposes which in turn convert these into liquid product.

Pyrolysis is the “internal decomposition” of these feedstock into smaller pieces by applying heat.

Pre-treatment of the components is needed to measure solid waste characteristics such as the ash and moisture content, the bulk density, the size particle and others, he said.

This is to reduce the cost of handling, storage and transportation, he added.

Md Hafiz gave an example that material such as coconut shell has high level of moisture content.

His findings said all of the five selected biomass feed materials are found to have the following characteristics: low moisture content, low ash content, high GCV and high volatile yield.

GCV or Gross Calorific Value is the quantity of heat produced by the combustion of the biomass. The biomass with a higher GCV is a better option.

However, of all the five feed stock used on the research, sawdust appeared to be the most ideal.

“The sawdust feed material is found to posses the highest heating value along with other physical properties,” he added.

Through his findings, Md Hafiz recommended that ITB to carry out more characterisation study for other available biomass feed materials and which would help the country to reduce its dependence on oil and also help the environment.

The Brunei Times