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Energy Harvest

Transforming Lives: Turning Agricultural Waste into Energy 

Background:

In the Punjab region of India, farmers regularly burn excess straw left over from their wheat and rice harvests. Research suggests that farmers in India burn around 116 million metric tonnes of crop residue. This burning process has a negative impact on the environment and economy as this straw is wasted and has serious implications on health and society due to the smoke and fumes produced.

EBRI’s patented technology - a Pyroformer™ - takes waste products and residues (such as husks and straw) and converts them to energy in controlled conditions. The process generates oil, gas and biochar.




This video shows the effects of the traditional method of clearing crop residue through open field burning: smoke, pollution and waste.
View photos of the project's progress so far.
  • The use of EBRI’s Pyroformer™ in India means that waste straw now has a value 
  • Elimination of open field burning is improving air quality 
  • Farming villages are benefitting from decentralised electricity for their rural community 
  • The oils produced can be used to drive engines to power farming equipment 
  • A further by-product, biochar, is produced which can be used as a fertilizer and has been proven to dramatically increase crop yields.

Funding from Aston University and the Oglesby Charitable Trust has enabled EBRI to work closely with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Ropar to make this innovative technology available as a pilot phase in three villages of the Ropar District:

  • Khuaspura: 200 acres of farm land; Approximately 1450 inhabitants 
  • Hussainpur 300 acres of farm land; Approximately 2000 inhabitants 
  • Ladal: 200 acres of farm land; Approximately 500 inhabitants.

In July 2013, two events were held in India to showcase the work of EnergyHarvest and the progress of the project to date. These events took place at IIT Ropar (2nd July) and at the British Council in New Delhi (3rd July) and were both well attended. Having created a huge amount of interest from business, industry, government, academia and the media, it is clear that this project has struck a chord with people within India and beyond. They too want to be involved and to make a difference.

Bearing in mind the clear need for increased engagement in India, Aston University and IIT Ropar have established a charitable trust to further develop this concept and technology in India - the Energy Harvest Charitable Trust. This charity is responsible for raising the funds needed for the next phase: a further 5-6 mobile units to conduct further testing and business modelling throughout India.

Read more about the project's progress to date.

The Pyroformer™ was housed in a mobile container unit that could be transported between villages and operated by the villagers themselves. This technology has the potential to stimulate growth and provide a cost-effective, reliable and sustainable form of decentralised power generation to address the local needs of heat and energy.

The new demonstration system showing how rice straw can be turned into both bio-char and cooling outputs is now being installed at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). Installed alongside chilling technology at the Food Science labs at PAU, the reactor will demonstrate the production of bio-char (for soil improvement) and chilling (for vegetable and other plant preservation) from rice straw. 

The second year of bio-char trials also commences in September 2016. This first year of large scale field trials will explore the interaction between application levels, soil quality, fertiliser application and crop type. The objective is to identify the most effective use of bio-char in an agricultural context.*

*This work has been part-funded by a corporate social responsibility grant from Coromandel.

  • Recruit and support entrepreneurs who can replicate this technology in other regions
  • Continue to develop supply chain expertise, for example in introducing pelletisation of rice straw for power plant consumption. While this doesn't promote our pyrolysis technology, it does contribute to the main objective of reducing open field burning.
  • Initiate a new project in partnership with the Indian Institute of Petroleum (Dehradun) to improve the quality and efficiency of diesel blends from the process.

Send us an email or find out more about how you can support this project.

Visit the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) page for details of other projects currently being undertaken.