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Research project aims to transform life in rural India

15 July 2013

A new renewable energy technology that has the potential to eradicate the problem of open field burning in India has been unveiled.

The technology – a Pyroformer container - developed by scientists at the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in the UK is the result of an international research collaboration between Aston University and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar.

Every year farmers throughout India burn millions of tonnes of crop residue. This burning process has a negative impact on the environment and economy as this straw is wasted and has serious implications on health and society due to the smoke and fumes produced.

Working in the Punjab region of India, this project titled EnergyHarvest, takes agricultural waste left over from the harvests such as rice and wheat straw and EBRI’s Pyroformer technology heats them in controlled conditions.

The process generates oil, gas and biochar. Each one of these products is useful and means that harvest waste now has a value as it is put to use rather than simply being burnt. The oil produced can be mixed with diesel and used in engines to drive water pumps found on all agricultural land in the region; the gas can be used for power generation whilst the biochar can be used as a fertilizer to improve crop growth.

Funding from the Oglesby Charitable Trust has enabled Aston University to work closely with IIT Ropar to make this innovative technology available as a pilot phase in three villages of the Ropar District: Khuaspura, Hussainpur, Ladal. The Pyroformer is housed in a container unit that can be transported between rural locations by tractor and is operated by the villagers themselves.

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