Thermal Gasification of Rice Husks from Rice Growing Areas in Mwea, Embu County, Kenya


Thermal gasification of biomass provides a potential renewable energy resource in rural areas in Kenya. Rice husks are a key byproduct of rice production that are not considered of economic value to millers. Rice husks obtained from Mwea, Embu County, Kenya were converted into syngas using a locally assembled modified updraft gasifier. The syngas production was produced at temperatures between 450°C and 750°C with injection of limited supply of air and purified using series of gas cleaning and cooling devices. Proximate analysis shows that rice husks have a mean content of 21.9% ± 0.3% ash, 9.5% ± 3.3% moisture, 78.8% ± 0.3% volatiles and 91.8% ± 1.3% total solids. Carbonized rice husks have mean contents of 37.8% ± 1.2% ash, 3.1% ± 0.4% moisture, 62.3% ± 1.2% volatiles and 96.5% ± 0.4% total solids. The study shows that feedstock is consumed at a rate of 25 - 32 Kg/Hr with gas generation rate of 7.76 - 7.78 m3/hr; this translates to a gas yield of 0.31 - 0.35 m3/Kg. Process water was re-circulated at a rate of 2.2 m3/hr within the plant. The total electricity consumption per hour was 1.1 - 1.3 kWh. Carbon monoxide (CO) and temperature were monitored in the working area to assess the safety of the workers and were found to be in the range of 35 - 50 ppm and 24°C - 29.5°C respectively. The two were found to be within safe limits; however, the CO concentrations increased when leakages occurred. Syngas was found to be composed of 16.5% - 17.55% CO, 14.5% - 16.1% CO2, 4.1% - 4.5% H2, 6.8% - 7.2% CH4 and 17.9% - 45.7% N2 among others. The gas was used for direct heating applications and to run modified petrol engines. Carbonized husks were used to make energy briquettes and partly applied to the rice growing pads to improve soil properties. The technology provides energy solutions and aids in the abatement of climate change mitigation and abatement since it provides a permanent carbon sink. The technology provides a value addition chain for rice growers.

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Njogu, P. , Kinyua, R. , Muthoni, P. and Nemoto, Y. (2015) Thermal Gasification of Rice Husks from Rice Growing Areas in Mwea, Embu County, Kenya. Smart Grid and Renewable Energy, 6, 113-119. doi: 10.4236/sgre.2015.65010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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