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12 October 2018

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Measuring absorption of biofuels

The world is moving to renewable energy, to try to stem the global warming taking place around us. One source of renewable energy is that from biomass - fuel that is developed from organic materials.

Residues from agricultural and forest field processing can be used for biomass, and is increasingly being used in developing countries.

Researchers in Nigeria and the USA are investigating the energy properties of the shells of trees used as cash crops. Three types of tree were studied - Rubber, Bush Mango and Achi. Rubber is a perennial plantation crop cultivated as an industrial crop. Bush mango has a wide range of usage with most important product being processed as seed cake, which is widely used in soups and stews in West and Central Africa. Achi is used for food and medicine. The edible seed is used as a thickener in soup preparation

Achi tree

The study wanted to quantify the energy related characteristics of these residues, and their moisture absorption characteristics.

To determine the rate of moisture sorption of the samples, the scientists placed a thin layer of the samples (100-150 g) in a wire mesh basket hung from a digital weighing balance (Model PM 4600, Mettler-Toledo). Sample masses were monitored and continuously recorded on a computer at 5 minute intervals until equilibrium was reached depending on the temperature and relative humidity of the conditioned air entering the chamber. The researchers used Windmill Software was used to interface the weighing balance to the personal computer. The experiment was complete when the mass of sample did not change by more than 0.01 g within a span of one hour.

The scientists concluded that the Bush mango shell had the most favourable energy properties. However, the shells should be used soon after collection to reduce moisture absorption.

More Information

Find out how to interface a Mettler Toledo balance to a PC

Egbu CP, Simonyan KJ, Fasina O. 2018. Energy properties of non-timber forest tree shell residues for fuel. CIGR Journal, 20(1).

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