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  Pine needles for fuel!
Category: Renewable energy
Source: Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi)
Location: Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh - India

Did you ever think that pine needles would be of much use? Well, they are. Professor Iyer and Professor Rao of Indian Institute of Technology (Department of Chemical Engineering, Delhi) have successfully developed alternative fuel using pine needles as one of the main components. Pine needles combined with other woody, leafy biomass and agricultural residues can be converted into briquettes that can be used as alternate fuel for cooking and heating purposes.

The process involves charring biomass mixed with water and suitable binder in a drum charring unit and then grouping it to a proper size. Subsequently it is made into a paste and allowed to dry partially. The next step involves making of the briquettes (size 13 cm in diameter x 7.5 cm in height or 16.5 cm in diameter x 7.5 cm in height with nineteen holes). The paste is filled in specially made moulds and compressed. Next, they are allowed to dry in the sun.
These briquettes are environment friendly and user friendly in many ways—they can easily be burnt in a stove, burning with a clean blue flame with no smoke. Each briquette can burn from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the raw material. Most importantly, they are made from waste biomass and are simple to make. They are ideal for domestic cooking and space heating.
The developers have identified rural and semi-urban population of the mountains as prospective users since the raw material required for these briquettes are found easily in such areas. A simple and efficient alternative, their use has been demonstrated in many hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh in India. In several of these places the briquettes are already in domestic-use and are also available for sale.