IIT Guwahati researchers develop new low-cost natural draft charcoal retort

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati have developed a new low-cost ‘Improved Natural Charcoal Retort’ (INDCR) to address the technological and capital investment challenges of Indian charcoal makers .

Charcoal is widely used as a fuel for home and industrial heating applications.

While most developed countries produce industrial charcoal through the retort system, it was not available to Indian charcoal producers due to technological barriers and the need for more capital investment. raised.

NTPC Ltd’s new initiative wing for waste-to-energy projects held an open competition “Green Charcoal Hackathon 2020”, where innovators from IIT Guwahati presented the INDCR.

“After further evaluation and mentoring by NTPC officials, the developed reactor had the opportunity to be demonstrated in the NTPC township of the Ramagundam thermal power plant in Telangana to produce charcoal from waste municipal solids (MSW) of five tons / day. Said a statement from IIT Guwahati.

Dr Arun Kumar Chandrasekaran and Dr Senthilmurugan Subbiah, professors at the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, who were the main innovators of the INDCR system, have filed an Indian patent for the design of this innovative reactor.

Technical details of the reactor and its performance have been published in the reputable peer-reviewed journal aEnergy & Fuels Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers at IIT Guwahati have chosen various biomasses such as Prosopis juliflora, Casuarina equisetifolia, Bambusoideae, biomass briquettes, wood pellets and waste-derived fuel briquettes (RDF) from municipal solid waste (MSW) as feedstock. input for the charcoal making process.

The definition of good quality charcoal depends on its end user.

Therefore, the retort reactor was developed to be able to produce charcoal with higher mass efficiency (34-42 percent), versatile fixed carbon quality (76-88 percent), higher energy content. high (6400-7200 kcal / kg), minimal harmful emission (2.65 kg of CO2 / kg of charcoal) and shorter charring time (4 hours).

In addition, the reactor has the ability to control the process at any time during operation.

It is user friendly in terms of biomass / feedstock loading and charcoal unloading.

After reaching 270 degrees Celsius and above, the volatile gases produced in the wood chamber, which are mainly low molecular weight volatile organic compounds, are redirected to the combustion chamber for complete combustion and released as combustion products. complete.

The autoclave system operates in an environmentally friendly manner with very low emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and particulates.

In addition, the charcoal produced from the autoclave reactor has been used as a fuel in barbecue and blast furnace heating applications and as a sorbent in pharmaceutical wastewater treatment, the rejection added.

Emphasizing the unique aspects of the developed reactor, Dr Subbiah said: “The innovative reactor has been proven to produce high quality charcoal from a wide range of raw materials, and it is designed to use its own material. first as a heating fuel. “

“This reactor is portable in agricultural fields, and it is proven to convert all agricultural waste into charcoal without emissions of harmful gases,” he said.

The developed coal retort reactor was installed and tested in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district (Tamil Nadu) with manufacturing assistance from M / s Optima Heat Technologies, Paramakudi, Tamil Nadu.

The pilot scale mobile charcoal production unit has an input loading capacity of 125 kg with the two-phase operation mode.

The demonstration of the entire research spanned two years with over 60 field trials to ensure consistent charcoal yield and quality.

Speaking of the technology transfer agreement between IIT Guwahati and Sanron Fuel Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, and Samkitec Resources, Hyderabad, said Dr Subbiah: “This technology transfer will allow further research and development at IIT Guwahati to design a larger capacity reactor system to produce charcoal. industrial grade, independent of any feed load. with higher mass and energy efficiency and lower emissions.

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Edward L. Robinett