If you are a farmer and want to earn a handsome amount from the stubble left behind in your field instead of burning it and adding to the pollution level and also get bio-fertiliser and sustainable energy in the same deal than an IIT-Delhi technical team can help. This team has provided technical support to Asia’s first biogas-based power plant which is now operating on paddy straw for large-scale biogas production in Fazilka, Punjab. The system is based on 100 percent use of paddy straw and has been generating nearly 4,000 cubic meters per day of biogas from 10 tonnes of straw. This is in turn generates 1 MW power. This comes as a welcome solution to the pollution mess engulfing our cities. Going by reports, 70 percent of Delhi’s air pollution is due to stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of North India.
Professor V K Vijay of Centre for Rural Development and Technology (CRDT) of IIT-D said paddy straw, if not burnt, could yield 2.181 million tonnes of oil equivalent or 25,365 GigaWatt Hours per year. “Straw burning can be avoided through installation of commercial biogas industries by using this agro biomass for both power generation and bio-fertiliser production to enrich soil health. The present level of utilisation at Fazilka has shown a saving of 120 gigajoules per day energy which otherwise would have been released to the atmosphere by direct combustion along with the release of enormous pollutants,” said Prof. Vijay. He further added, “Burning straw biomass amounts to 30 kgs of particulate matter, 600 kgs of carbon monoxide, 14.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 20 kgs of sulphur dioxide emissions, which have significant toxicological properties and are potential carcinogens.”
Abhinav Trivedi, a doctoral fellow working under the guidance of Vijay, developed this process that has better efficiency than conventional processes for biogas generation. Dr Ramchandra of CRDT said the project was started in December 2011 by the Punjab government in association with Sampurn Agri Ventures Pvt Ltd. “After our intervention for around six months, the plant is running for nearly eight hours per day for the same amount of straw against two hours earlier. It is generating 7,500 kilowatt hour per day and nearly five tonnes of bio-fertilisers per day,” he said. Ramchandra also said that the system was able to harness over 45 percent of energy available in the material.