Turning corncobs into energy: A promising new avenue

15:52 | 22/09/2017 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Vietnamese people are known for their inventive use of recycled goods and materials. Their latest project, the brainchild of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Research Institute of Agricultural Machinery, turns corncobs into synthetic gas. It was recently tested at the Corn Processing Company in Son La Province’s Mai Son District. Trial results were reported to be very positive, especially in terms of reducing environmental pollution.

turning corncobs into energy a promising new avenue

Associate Professor Nguyen Dinh Tung, director of the Research Institute of Agricultural Machinery, said about 8-10 million tonnes per year of corncob are discharged into the environment. A small percentage of this output is used to produce microbial fertilizers, while the majority is disposed of as waste. This not only wastes raw materials but also pollutes the environment.

A team from the Research Institute of Agricultural Machinery carried out a study to see whether the corn waste could be used to build a continuous gasification system on an industrial scale to convert solid fuel (corncobs) into synthetic gas.

After a period of practical experimentation in Son La Province, the gasification system has replaced some types of coal-fired incinerators. Synthetic gas can be used for corn drying facilities or for other devices that use thermal energy. The technology has utilized the excess of corncobs in manufacturing plants, contributing to reducing environmental pollution and increasing the efficiency of processing plants.

Trial results show that the system fully meets economic criteria and technical requirements. The costs of this type of burning fuel are about one-third of coal-fired incinerators. Moreover, equipment costs are less than a half compared to imported coal-fired devices.

Based on the positive results so far, the research team wants to continue to study other gasification systems based on agricultural by-products, while conducting further research on air purifiers that are suitable for use in generators, motors, or processors.

The technology to convert corncobs into synthetic gas will open a new direction in efficient use of agricultural by-products.

Thanh Tam