NARI’s research into power generation can be divided into two main categories: small scale and large scale. Small scale projects are aimed at the development of specific devices and technologies that can produce clean, abundant energy. Large scale projects take the broader socio-economic context into account and focus on designing human settlements in such a way that they are self-sufficient and sustainable.
The biomass gasifier programme began in 1984 when a 5 horse-power diesel gen-set was operated upon a wood gasifier. After some time the programme shifted to sugarcane leaves and a loose biomass material gasification system was developed which continued until 1997. A short history of gasification research at NARI is given here.
A major publication on gasification was published in 1984.
Sugarcane leaves gasifier
– NARI was a pioneer in the development of technology for gasification of loose leafy biomass fuels like sugarcane leaves and bagasse, sweet sorghum stalks and bagasse, different types of grasses etc. A 500 kW (thermal) gasifier has been successfully tested in an actual user-industry in India. The gasification technology for thermal applications is ready for commercialization.
Attributes of NARI gasifier:
– Thermal gasifier of 800 kW capacity
– A multifuel gasifier – can run on sugarcane leaves, bajra (pearl millet) husk, safflower residues, sweet sorghum stalks and bagasse, sugarcane bagasse, etc.
– About 20-24% of the fuel is converted into char, which is a value added item
– Zero waste water system. Hot gas cleaning.
– PLC controlled unit. Only two operators per shift are required.
– The cost of the present unit is ~ Rs. 15,00,000/-
– Youtube video of the gasifier.
NARI can offer the technology for this gasifier to interested parties.
At a larger scale NARI has proposed that the best way to meet the country’s energy needs and reduce our dependence on imported fuel is to develop energy self sufficient Talukas. Such talukas can provide food, fuel, fodder and fertilizer to its population and can also provide employment in the process. At the same time if it is possible for residents of a taluka to produce all the energy that they require then it will be a major step towards creation of a truly sustainable society. A theme article on this was written in 2002.
NARI was the principal author of the national policy on Taluka based biomass based power plants. Under this scheme Government of India has established more than 120 power plants all over the country. A short history of how NARI was involved in development of national policy has been written.
Additionally, a lead editorial article in Times of India was published on the issue of making farms produce energy. NARI scientists also presented a thematic paper on the strategy for biofuels at a recently held National Conference on Oilseeds.
NARI scientists also developed a scheme of using stand alone power plants for dual purpose of producing power and clean drinking water. A paper on this application is available here.
NARI’s work in late 1990s and early 2000 on the concept of Taluka and village level power plants connected to localised grid was way ahead of its time. Development of microgrids based on renewables is in vogue presently all over the world.