Dr Preetam Singh of IIT Banares has invented a method for producing hydrogen and an assortment of other fuels, such as liquefied natural gas, bio-charcoal, and dry-ice. Some details of this technology have been captured in this article of the Business Line newspaper. Basically, Dr Singh’s process is a novel, fractionation process that produces biofuels from agri and forest waste. A more detailed description of the process is given at the end of this article, but the heart of the process is a reactor he has invented, which he calls TAD, for Thermally accelerated Anaerobic Digestion. For every kilo of biomass you put in, you get 40 grams of hydrogen, 170 grams of methane, 300 grams of bio-coal and 420 grams of carbon dioxide which can be converted into a saleable produce called dry-ice.
The most significant part of the story is, using this process, Preetam Singh says you can produce ultra pure hydrogen at a price of $ 5 a kg (Rs 375), which is the target price globally—Preetam Singh has already achieved it. Ultra pure hydrogen sells in the market for Rs 2,000 a kg. Apart from hydrogen, you also get other valuable products. Since you can buy agri residue for Rs 5-10 a kg, the economics of it are compelling.
Now, Preetam Singh’s company, Biezel Green, is calling for partners to put up hydrogen and biofuels plant. His pitch to entrepreneurs is as follows:
- The offer is 50 per cent stake for financial investment in the plant. A 15-tpd plant will cost about Rs 15 crore. Net profit will be at least Rs 10 crore a year; the partner will get half of it.The payback period, therefore, is 3 years.
- There will be no transfer of technology. Biezel Green will put up the plant, maintain it and will be responsible for the production. It will help in marketing, but selling is really not a problem because there is good demand for all the products. The financial partner will bring in funds and run the company.
There is no fixed number of joint ventures Biezel Green will form, there will be many joint ventures, perhaps a few in each region.
Biomass that is put into the TAD reactor burns under very carefully controlled temperature and pressure, which is the secret of the technology. The exhaust from TAD contains CO2, hydrogen, methane, carbon particles and bio-tar. At lower temperatures (in the beginning of the process) the majority of CO2 comes out as O-C-O and C-O, which is easy to break. When CO2 flow becomes low, then methane formation occurs followed by dissociation of C-H bonds, releasing hydrogen. Along the line, formation of carbon particulates and bio-tar also occurs in traces, which is why the direct exhaust of the TAD reactors first goes through water-cooled jackets for precipitation of bio-tar, carbon particulates and moisture. Then, the exhaust travels through different carbon filters for complete capture of carbon particles and moisture. Now, the exhaust containing CO2, hydrogen and methane, goes through an online scrubber, which separates CO2 from other substances. In the end, you get 75-80 per cent hydrogen, 19-24 per cent methane, and traces of heavy hydrocarbons—which, as a proportion of the input biomass translates to 3-4 per cent of hydrogen, 14-17 per cent methane, 28-30 per cent bio-coal, 42-44 per cent of CO2 and moisture and carbon particulates.
For further details, contact:
Dr Preetam Singh, Associate Professor, IIT BHU: firstname.lastname@example.org
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