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Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III

Editors: Sachin Kumar, A.K. Sarma, S.K. Tyagi, Y.K. Yadav

ISBN 978-81-927097-2-7

© SSS-NIRE-2014



Madhurjya Saikia and Bichitra Bikash


Biomass material such as rice straw, banana leaves and teak leaves (Tectona grandis) could be densified by means of wet briquetting process. Wet briquetting is a process of decomposing biomass material up to a desired level under controlled environment in order to pressurize to wet briquettes at a lower pressure. Upon drying these wet briquettes could be used as solid fuels. This study is aimed at to develop methodologies to measure quality and handling characteristics of these briquettes and burning characteristics as well.

Key words: Biomass, briquettes, durability, shear strength, impact resistance.



India produces yearly a large amount of agro residue such as rice straw, rice husk, coffee husk, jute stick, coir pith, bagasse, groundnut shells etc. Some part of this agro residue is used as animal fodder. A large amount of agro residue is left on the paddy fields to be burnt or decomposed [Ponnamperuma et al., 1983]. Both ways are means of pollution to environment, as field burning of agro residue emits a lot of GHGs to environment and decomposition of the agro residue too produces methane gas which is considered of the GHGs [Campbell et al., 2002; Sokhansanj et al., 2006]. Instead of letting these agro residues to be burnt or decomposed, these could be converted to densified forms by briquetting method [Stanely, 2003]. This will mitigate the problems of pollution while at the same time we would be successful to trap this energy resource for industrial purposes. Briquettes are far better to handle rather than loose biomass.

Biomass briquetting is the densification of loose biomass material to produce compact solid composites of different sizes with the application of pressure. Three different types of densification technologies are currently in use [Saikia and Baruah, 2013]. The first, called pyrolizing technology relies on partial pyrolysis of biomass, which is added with binder and


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


then made into briquettes by casting and pressing. The second technology is direct extrusion type, where the biomass is dried and directly compacted with high heat and pressure (Grover and Mishra, 1994). The last type is called wet briquetting in which decomposition is used in order to breakdown the fibers. On pressing and drying, briquettes are ready for direct burning or gasification. These briquettes are also known as fuel briquettes [Stanley, 2003, Chou et al., 2010, Saikia et al., 2013].

These fuel briquettes are the newest edition of briquettes manufactured at low pressure unlike the others. As these briquettes are produced at relatively low pressure, a series of quality test such as durability, compressive strength, shear strength, impact test and combustion tests are needed to be done so that they could be more competitive with existing types.

5.2 Parameters of Quality Assessment

Durability, shear strength and impact resistance of briquettes are the basic parameters to assess the quality of briquettes in terms of handling and transportability of fuel briquettes (Grover and Mishra,

5.2.1 Durability

Durability of briquettes gives the mechanical handling of the solid fuel (Chou, 2009). This is measured by standard procedure ASAE S269.4 [Kaylyan et al]. To measure durability, 100 g of sample is taken and sample is tumbled at 50 rpm for 10 minutes in a dust tight enclosure of size 300mm×300mm. Metal cloth of aperture size 4mm is used to retain crumbled briquettes after tumbling.

Briquettes durability index in % given by= !" #$ %&'() ) & " $'*) + , ×100

," +&) *" #$ %&'() ,

Durability test set up: Working principle: The test set up is fabricated according to specification of ASAE S269.4 (Temmerman et al., 2006). The set up consists of a box 300 mm× 300 mm × 125 mm mounted on a frame. The box can be rotated by wooden handle or a motor at 50 rpm for 10 minutes which simulates the probable conditions of briquettes under transport by truck or conveyer belt into furnace. Figure below shows a durability measuring test set up made according to specification.

5.2.2 Shear Strength Test

To measure shear strength, a simple test is done. Briquette is sheared between two planes and shear force developed is the shear strength of briquette (Saikia and Baruah, 2013).


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III 2014 Fig. 1 Durability test set up Fig. 2

Fig. 1 Durability test set up

Research, Vol. III 2014 Fig. 1 Durability test set up Fig. 2 Shear strength test set

Fig. 2 Shear strength test set up

Shear strength test set up: To measure shear strength, shearing test set up has been fabricated. The instrument consists of three wooden plates. The middle plate with a central cylindrical hole of 45 mm diameter and 30 mm thickness slides over the bottom plate. In the top plate, a cylindrical hole of same diameter as that of moving plate with 20 mm thickness is being provided in such a way that it coincides with the one that is provided in the movable plate when this plate is fully inserted between top and non moving bottom plate. The movable plate is connected to dead weights.

Shear strength, kPa =


π D 2

Where F= Force causing shear in briquette, kN D= diameter of briquette, m 5.2.3 Impact Resistance Test

This test simulates the forces encountered during emptying of densified products from trucks onto ground, or from chutes into bins. Drop tests can be used to determine the safe height of briquette production during mass production (Debdoubi A. et al., 2005). ASTM D440-86 method is used to determine impact resistance index (Kaliyan N. and Morey R.V.,


floor. An impact resistance index (IRI) is calculated.

In the drop test, briquettes are dropped twice from a height 1.83 m onto a concrete




Where, N= Number of drops, n= Total number of pieces. The upper limit of IRI is 200 which would result if the briquettes are not broken even after dropping twice.


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


5.3 Parameters of Combustion Characteristics of Briquettes

Proximate analysis and combustion rates of briquettes were done to assess effectiveness of briquettes as cooking fuel.

5.3.1 Proximate Analysis

Moisture Content: The moisture content is determined according to the method described in the Forestry Hand Book (Wenger, 1984). 10 g of sample is taken immediately upon sampling and then air dried. This air- dried sample is taken immediately in an aluminum moisture box and kept in an oven heated at 105º ± 3 ºC until constant weight is obtained. The difference of the oven dry weight of the sample and the fresh weight of the sample is used to determine the percentage of moisture content as follows:

Moisture content, % = -" % ,. + /"0 -" %

× 100

Ash content: For determination of ash content, ASTM Test No. D-271-48 is followed. At first, an empty 25 ml. silica crucible as well as the sample is heated in a moisture oven. Sample is weighed accurately to 2 g. The sample in the crucible is kept in muffle furnace with the lid cover. Muffle furnace temperature is set at 550º ± 50ºC and kept for 6 hours. After 6 hours of burning crucible is removed from the furnace and placed in a desiccators and weighed accurately. Percentage of ash content was calculated as follows:

Ash content, % =

Weight of ash

Weight of sample × 100

Volatile matter: Volatile matter of samples is determined by ASTM Test No. D- 271- 48. A clean platinum crucible of 10 ml. capacity is taken and heated in a furnace at 950ºC for 2 minutes and cooled in desiccators for 15 minutes. Crucible weighed to nearest 0.1 mg. Sample filled crucible is weighed and heated in a furnace at 950ºC for 2 minutes. After volatile matter escaped, the crucible is removed from furnace and cooled in air 2 to 5 minutes and then in desiccators for 15 minutes. The percentage of weight loss of the samples is reported as volatile matter as follows:

VM= Wt. loss of dry sample Net wt.of dry sample

× 100


Wt. loss of wet sample ×100

Gross wt. of wet sample

100- percent

moisture × 100 (Wet samples)

Determination of fixed carbon content Fixed carbon (FC) is determined by ASTM Test No. D- 271- 48

FC (on dry basis) = 100- (% of volatile matter +% of ash)


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


FC (on wet basis) = 100 – (% of volatile matter + % of ash + % of moisture)

5.3.2 Calorific Value

Calorific value is determined by using Automatic Microprocessor Calorimeter (5E- AC/ML) (make- Changsha Kaiyuan, China) (Saikia M. and Baruah D., 2013). The briquette’s material is nicely ground and pellets of 10 mm diameter are prepared from grounded material. The pellets are placed inside a crucible so that tungsten wire touches the pellet. The calorific value is analyzed by the Automatic Microprocessor Calorimeter or auto bomb calorimeter. The system has facilities such as water cycling system, automatic water feeding, temperature adjusting with a PT 500 temperature sensor, zero drift bridge temperature circuit to ensure that temperature resolutions reach 0.0001 , auto-diagnose, remote data transfer and auto- weight entry.

auto-diagnose, remote data transfer and auto- weight entry. Fig. 3 Auto bomb calorimeter for proximate analysis

Fig. 3 Auto bomb calorimeter for proximate analysis

5.3.3 Combustion Rate

Combustion rate or burning rate is the mass loss per unit time. The briquettes are dried at 105ºC so that it does not affect on combustion or burning. Dried briquette is placed on a steel wire mesh grid resting on three supports allowing free flow of air (Chaney J. O.et al. , 2010) Now the whole system is placed on mass balance. Briquette is ignited from top and mass loss data is taken at an interval of 30 seconds.


Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


Briquette Steel wire mesh Three leg support Electronic mass Stop watch balance Fig. 4 Combustion
Steel wire mesh
Three leg support
Electronic mass
Stop watch
Fig. 4 Combustion rate determination set up for briquettes

With the help of this study we aim to standardize the practice of briquette making for

the commercial purpose. Generally, there are very few literatures on the standardization of

quality testing methodologies of briquettes and burning characteristics as well. Durability,

shear strength and impact resistance of briquettes could be determined easily as discussed in

the section II in order to assess the quality of briquettes in terms of handling and

transportability. Higher the durability, impact resistance and shear strength, higher will be the

handling characteristics. But we need to reach at an optimum value of these indexes in order

to produce quality briquettes at a cost effective way as quality always adds cost to production.

Similarly, we can also asses the burning rates of briquettes in room condition as discussed in

the section III. This generally helps to build a rough idea of performance of briquettes in

actual condition. Moreover, with the knowledge of burning rates, we can further manipulate

parameters of briquette manufacturing such a density and porosity of briquettes in order to

obtain a desired level of burning rate. Apart from that proximate analysis and calorific value

tests will so help us to give answer to some of the questions regarding the fuel such as

whether it produces too much harmful fly ash and unwanted gases which are general indoor

air pollutants many households and effectiveness of the fuel in terms of heat value. A fuel

without heat value would be useless as a lot of fuel will be needed during use for its lower

heat value.


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Recent Advances in Bioenergy Research, Vol. III


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