Biomass refers to various organic materials coming from plants, animals and microorganisms. Or narrowly speaking, it covers leftovers (except grain and fruit) from farming industry, like agricultural residues and wood wastes. (P.S.: Here we only talk about biomass residues from agriculture in regard to Brazil’s market.)
Biomass can be economically feasible when there is already supply of residue materials. Biomass material can be converted into energy source not only due to its potential as low-cost and indigenous supply, but also due to its potential benefits to environment. Besides, developing biomass can also stimulate jobs for underutilized labors.

Biomass in Brazil
Due to its favorable natural conditions, Brazil can receive intense solar radiation throughout the year to facilitate the growth of biomass. With the significant arable land and favorable growing conditions, there are abundant biomass resources in Brazil.   
We know that biomass materials can be processed into pellets and then utilized as fuel for heating and power generating. For example, in European countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, the compressed biomass (mostly wood pellets) is widely used for household heating. And the conversion of biomass pellets into electricity is also introduced to decentralized power plants. However, it may be a good choice for Brazil to use biomass pellets to generate electricity since it is in a tropical climate. And it happens to have a large quantity of agricultural residues like bagasse from sugar cane processing, coffee husks from coffee industry, rice husk from rice mill, etc., which shall be elaborated in the following.

Brazil is a large sugar cane producer. When sugar cane is ground, a lot of wastes (i.e. bagasse) are left. Sugar mills produce more than enough electricity to cover their own needs. And some mills sell their surplus to distribution companies in Brazil. It is said that sugarcane mills supplied about 4 percent of Brazil’s electricity requirements. Making bagasse into pellets and then use them as energy source is a good choice. Bagasse can be processed into biofuel pellets and then burned in coal-fired and thermal plants.
Bagasse has an energy content of about 450 kwh/metric ton, which is similar to wood and about half that of coal. One metric ton of sugar cane yields about 300 kg of bagasse, and Brazil produces 560 million metric tons of sugar cane annually. Thus, Brazil could as much as expand its biomass electricity generation.

Table 1 Properties of Bagasse and Bagasse Pellets
    Material  Moisture content  Ash content   Volatile    Fixed carbon   Thermal value
   Bagasse       40-55%       1-5%    ~42%     ~5.8%   ~7,360 kj/kg
  Bagasse pellets         ~8%       ~6%        -         -            -

Why adopt bagasse as raw materials of pellet fuel?
1. Bagasse has a high energy content and it is with higher burning quality.
2. Making bagasse into pellets is energy-saving and friendly to the environment for it is an existing agricultural residues for its part and it causes less pollution.
3. Bagasse pellets can earn carbon credits since they avoid releasing greenhouse gases.

Rice Husk & Rice Straw
Brazil is the largest producer of rice outside Asia. After harvesting and milling of rice, there are a large quantity of rice straws and rice husks left. Rice husk, also called rice hull, is the coating on a seed or grain of rice. And rice straw is a rice by-product produced when harvesting paddy.
Like bagasse, rice husk and rice straw can also be pelletized and then used for producing electricity. Rice husk and rice straw have begun to be regarded as an agricultural industrial residue of significance, and they are adopted as raw materials for biomass pellets making.
The properties of rice husk and rice straw are shown as below.

Table 2 Properties of Rice Husk and Rice Straw
 Material     Moisture content          Ash content         Volatile         Fixed carbon        Thermal  value
 Rice husk              8-10%     18-22%     ~59%       ~20%   11.9-17 MJ/kg
 Rice straw          10-20%     10-17%    ~70%       ~15%    ~15.3 MJ/kg

 Coffee Husk
Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world. Brazil’s coffee plantations are mainly located in the southeastern states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Paraná where the environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions for growth of coffee. There are about 220,000 coffee farms, with an area of about 27,000 km2 in Brazil.
Thus, there are abundant coffee residues in Brazil. As agricultural wastes in coffee processing industry, coffee husks can be processed into pellets by pellet press and then used as fuel to produce electricity in power station.

Table 3 Property of Coffee Husk
    Material        Moisture content    Ash content       Volatile     Fixed carbon    Thermal value 
   Coffee husk             ~6.7%     ~7%      ~83%          ~15%   ~18.3 MJ/kg

The application of coffee husk pellets as biofuel will lead to remarkable reduction of CO2 emissions. Use of this kind of source plays an important role in the supply of energy needs inside of the processing plants due to the large amount of wastes from coffee industry. It would be better to blend these coffee wastes with other resources to make quality pellets.

How to Make Bagasse Pellets, Rice Husk/Straw Pellets and Coffee Husk Pellets
In general, biomass materials like bagasse, rice husks, rice straws and coffee husks, need to be ground into suitable sizes by a hammer mill and prepared for the next step. Since the materials are of higher moisture content, a dryer is needed to dry the materials for next step, pelleting. After being pelletized, the biomass materials become pellets finally. If for commercial purpose, you may also choose a packing machine to pack the pellets into uniform bags.

Advantages of Using and Making Pellets from these Biomass Materials
The utilization of biomass has some advantages, including
1) An abundant resource
2) Renewable and available in several forms and several use varieties
3) Decentralized production with regional resource
4) Reduction of environmental pollution

Application of Biomass Pellets
The pellets fuel made from bagasse, rice husk or coffee husk can be sold to companies in industries like dairy, textiles that generate steam to power turbines in their manufacturing process. Also, these pellets fuel can be sold to biofuel traders who would then sell the pellets to coal-fired plants, for whom, adopting biomass pellets as their fuel source can help them reduce the carbon emissions.

Prospect of Pellet Fuel
The European countries and the North America enjoy the most shares in this field, while the growth of pellets making and using in Asian and Latin-American countries is vigorous. Pellets fuel, not only used for industrial application (be used in electrical power generators), but also by families or institutions (like hospitals and schools), are increasingly becoming a good choice for heating and energy generating.
As the whole market develops, there will be standards for pellets and for pellet appliance (like pellet boilers, pellet stoves, pellet fireplace, etc.).
How to make quality products, and make our life easier and better, and make the earth more beautiful is an eternal topic.

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