Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Rice straw: From waste to worth as clean fuel

An IRRI Thursday seminar 

By Craig Jamieson, Martin Gummert, and Nguyen Van Hung

18 August 2016
1:15-2:15 p.m.
Havener Auditorium


After rice harvest, the straw remains in or around the field, with few viable alternatives  for use. As a result, around 300 million tons of it are burned as waste each year across Asia. If rice straw could be collected and used as fuel, it would be one of the most abundant bioenergy resources on earth. However, gathering it from sometimes muddy rice fields and transporting it is a costly and challenging operation. In addition, its composition makes it a very poor solid fuel. Hence, few successful demonstrations exist in using rice straw for clean energy provision. This, in turn, adds to the risk, the cost of financing a project, and the shortage of relevant skills and knowledge. How can this deadlock be broken?

A joint research project was undertaken between IRRI and the UK SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub to identify and better understand these barriers, along with promising options to overcome them. Possible solutions have been summarized as: a) logistical advances, such as baling machines; b) suitable energy conversion technologies, such as anaerobic digestion to make biogas; and c) institutional innovations, such as pro-poor business models. Lessons will be shared from the IRRI-SUPERGEN project and case studies from around the world, as well as opportunities for future development and scaling out, will be presented.

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