Tanzania has a characteristic developing economy, which is dependent on agricultural productivity. About 90% of the total primary energy consumption of the country is from biomass. Since the biomass is mostly consumed at the household level in form of wood fuel, it is marginally contributing to the commercial energy supply. However, the country has abundant energy resources from hydro, biomass, natural gas, coal, uranium, solar, wind and geothermal. Due to reasons that include the limited technological capacity, most of these resources have not received satisfactory harnessing. For instance: out of the estimated 4.7GW macro hydro potential only 561MW have been developed; and none of the 650MW geothermal potential is being harnessed. Furthermore, besides the huge potential of biomass (12 million tons of oil equivalent), natural gas (45 million cubic metres), coal (1,200 million tones), high solar insolation (4.5 – 6.5 kWh/m2), 1,424km of coastal strip, and availability of good wind regime (> 4 m/s wind speed), they are marginally contributing to the production of commercial energy. Ongoing exploration work also reveals that the country has an active system of petroleum and uranium. On the other hand, after commissioning the 229km natural gas pipeline from SongoSongo Island to Dar es Salaam, there are efforts to ensure a wider application in electricity generation, households, automotive and industry.
Due to existing environmental concerns, biomass resource is an attractive future energy for the world, Tanzania inclusive. This calls for putting in place sustainable energy technologies, like gasification, for their harnessing. The high temperature gasification (HTAG) of biomass is a candidate technology since it has shown to produce improved syngas quality in terms of gas heating value that has less tar.
This work was therefore initiated in order to contribute to efforts on realizing a commercial application of biomass in Tanzania. Particularly, the work aimed at establishing characteristic properties of selected biomass feedstock from Tanzania. The characteristic properties are necessary input to thermochemical process designers and researchers. Furthermore, since the properties are origin-specific, this will provide baseline data for technology transfer from north to south. The characteristic properties that were established were chemical composition, and thermal degradation behaviour. Furthermore, laboratory scale high temperature gasification of the biomasses was undertaken.
Chemical composition characteristics was established to palm waste, coffee husks, cashew nut shells (CNS), rice husks and bran, bagasse, sisal waste, jatropha seeds, and mango stem. Results showed that the oxygen content ranged from 27.40 to 42.70% where as that of carbon and hydrogen ranged from 35.60 to 56.90% and 4.50 to 7.50% respectively. On the other hand, the elemental composition of nitrogen, sulphur and chlorine was marginal. These properties are comparable to findings from other researchers. Based on the results of thermal degradation characteristics, it was evident that the cashew nut shells (CNS) was the most reactive amongst the analyzed materials since during the devolatilization stage the first derivative TG (DTG) peak due to hemicellulose degradation reached (-5.52%/minute) compared palm stem whose first peak was -4.81%/minute. DTG first peak for the remaining materials was indistinct.
Results from the laboratory gasification experiments that were done to the coffee husks showed that gasification at higher temperature (900°C) had an overall higher gasification rate. For instance, during the inert nitrogen condition, 7% of coffee husk remained for the case of 900°C whereas the residue mass for the gasification at 800 and 700°C was 10 and 17% respectively. Steam injection to the biomass under high temperature gasification evolved the highest volumetric concentration of carbon monoxide. The CO peak evolution at 900°C steam only was 23.47 vol. % CO whereas that at 700°C was 21.25 vol. % CO. Comparatively, the CO peaks for cases without steam at 900°C and 2, 3, and 4% oxygen concentrations were 4.59, 5.93, and 5.63% respectively. The reaction mechanism of coffee husks gasification was highly correlated to zero reaction order exhibiting apparent activation energy and the frequency factor 161 kJ/mol and 3.89x104/minute respectively.
Stockholm: KTH , 2010. , xiii, 61 p.