Coal Bagasse/Cotton-Stalk: a way to clean energy

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At present, it is imperative to understand the energy crises of Pakistan even, after being a land of many natural topographical features and natural resources. In recent years, we have witnessed the raise in coal demand in Pakistan. Reportedly, Pakistan has been importing 5-7-million-ton coal per annum and demand for coal is set to go up with several imported coal-fired power plants and the need will go up to 12-13-million-ton coal per year. Here noticeable point is, why Pakistan needs to import coal when it has blessed with 185 billion tons of coal?

Coal is a single largest contributor of worlds electricity generation and currently producing 41% of world’s electricity and Pakistan is producing negligible amount 0.1% of electricity from coal resources. Dr. Shahid Munir, Director of Centre for Coal Technology, Punjab University, on the misconceptions of Pakistani coal states that ‘Thar’ alone is blessed with 175 billion tons of fine quality coal with 1% Sulphur and less than 10% moister which is ideal to use for the production of electricity and require no prior treatment before use in power generation. Approximately, total value of Thar coal is more than $30 trillion and can produce electricity for more than 500 years but there are no modern techniques available to dig in the mines and utilize the resource. He further states that, some media circles played role in spreading the misconceptions about the quality of Thar coal and convinced people that its lacks the essential contents which make it less suitable to produce energy.

Indonesian coal is being imported in Pakistan to meet Pakistan’s rising demand but now Pakistan prefers to buy higher-quality South African coal in order to maximize the energy value of each ton imported. The mixing of lower-quality Indonesian coal in blending with higher grades will be a perk of having high performance in less money. But, the quality of Pakistani coal from Baluchistan showed similar content values as of Indonesian Coal and that can also be used for blending with South African Coal.

Next biggest challenge worldwide is the environmental risk and its measures. Dr. Shahid Munir further states that this issue can be overcome by using Bagasse and Cotton Stalk cofired with Coal. Pakistan is the 5th  largest producer of sugar cane worldwide. The advantages of co-firing this biomass with coal includes the production of electricity throughout the year. Some experts suggest the replacement of coal with bagasse completely but Dr. Munir says when he experimented 20kw rig, he found that, the mixture of Pakistani bagasse or cotton stalk when co-fired with using air staging or fuel staging, it reduces oxides of nitrogen, Sulphur and carbon yielding clean energy. Also, the use of bagasse or cotton stalk alone can cause slagging and fouling on boiler surfaces and lowers its efficiency.

In short, Pakistan is a country blessed with resources to overcome its energy crises, experts from education sectors and politicians has to be united on same grounds to evolve country’s science and technology to maintain stable Pakistan free of energy crises.


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