Mild Wet Torrefaction and Characterization of Woody Biomass from Mozambique for Thermal Applications

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Mozambique has vast forestry resources and also considerable biomass waste material such as bagasse, rice husks, sawdust, coconut husks and shells, cashew nut shell and lump charcoal waste. The potential of the total residues from the agricultural sector and the forest industry is estimated to be approximately 13 PJ. This amount of energy covers totally the production of charcoal which amounted to approximately 12.7 PJ in 2006. Although biomass is an attractive renewable source of energy, it is generally difficult to handle, transport, storage and use due to its lower homogeneity, its lower energy density and the presence of non-combustible inorganic constituents, which leads to different problems in energy conversion units such as deposition, sintering, agglomeration, fouling and corrosion. Therefore, a pretreatment of the biomass to solve these problems could lead to a change of current biomass utilization situation. The aim of this study is to convert Mozambican woody biomass residue into a solid biochar that resembles low-grade coal.In this work the current energy situation in Mozambique has been reviewed, and the available and potential renewable sources including residues from agricultural crops and forest industry as energy have been assessed. It was found that the country is endowed with great potential for biofuel, solar, hydro and wind energy production. However, the production today is still far from fulfilling the energy needs of the country, and the majority of people are still not benefiting from these resources. Charcoal and firewood are still the main sources of energy and will continue to play a very important role in the near future. Additionally, enormous amounts of energy resources are wasted, especially in the agricultural sector. These residues are not visible on national energy statistics. The chemical composition and the fuelwood value index (FVI) showed that by failing to efficiently utilise residues from Afzelia quanzensis, Millettia stuhlmannii and Pterocarpus angolensis, an opportunity to reduce some of the energy related problems is missed. An evaluation of effect of a mild wet torrefaction pretreatment showed that the chemical composition of the biochar is substantially different than the feedstock. The use of diluted acid as catalysts improves the biochar quality, namely in terms of the energy density and ash characteristics; however, the increment of the S content in the final product should be considered for market acceptance (because the fuels have a maximum allowance for S concentration). The thermal behaviour of the untreated and treated biomass was also investigated. The pyrolytic products of umbila and spruce were affected by the treatment and catalyst in terms of yield and composition of the vapours.