Thermo-chemical characteristics of peat as a potential gasifier fuel in the Lake Victoria Basin
Odhiambo, Markus Okoth
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The Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) in East Africa is endowed with substantial deposits of peat, a form of biomass, but has failed to gasify peat due to technical, financial and organizational aspects. While hydroelectric power is sensitive to climate change, gasification technology has a high potential for reducing biomass/peat energy consumption and increasing access to electricity and cooking facilities hence improving livelihoods and income. The key aspect for failure is the insufficient adaptation of gasification equipment to fuel characteristics, fuel specification and inadequate material choice of system components. This study investigated thermo-chemical characteristics of peat sampled from Yala swamp in Kenya, Kabale in Uganda, Rulindo in Northern Rwanda and Butare, Southern Rwanda. The proximate analysis involving moisture content, ash content and volatile matter, were conducted in an oven and muffle furnace. The moisture mean percentage ranged between 36.20±0.23 and 38.10±0.22, ash content between 0.116±0.02 and 0.256±0.014, volatile matter between 65.30±0.38 and 68.10±0.61, and fixed carbon between 20.84±0.27 and 23.05±0.42. Heating values were determined using the Gallenkamp Auto bomb calorimeter. Peat sampled from Yala had the highest mean percentage moisture of36.55±0.24, while Rulindo had the highest ash mean percentage ofO.256±0.014. The heating values mean percentages ranged between 19.69±0.05 and 20.96±0.13 MJ/Kg. The ultimate analysis was determined using 2400 CHN elemental analyzer to characterize existence of individual elements in the sample. The mean percentage levels obtained indicated that all peat samples had a mean range for Carbon between 54.26±0.26 and 57.32±0.25, Nitrogen, between O.019±0.001 and 0.58±0.21, Oxygen, between 36.17±0.14 and 39.21±0.27 and Hydrogen, between 5.8±O.l2 and 6.4±0.22. Rulindo had the highest mean percentage of 55.84±0.15% C while Kabale had the highest mean percentage of 0.58±0.01 % N. The energy content of peat from Yala had the highest mean percentage of 20.96±0.13 MJ/Kg The theoretical syngas composition as calculated from thermo-dynamic equilibrium model ranged C02, between 6.87±0.10 and 8.33±0.25, H2, between 12.50±0.12 and 14.20±0.12 and CO, between 24.45±0.38 and 27.20±0.87 mean percentages. Considering that updraft gasifier requires feedstock of mean percentage moisture content of up to 20-50%, 30-40% oxygen, 50-60% carbon and calorific. value of 20-30 MJ/kg. Therefore all the sampled peat from the Lake Victoria basin are potential fuels for gasification. From the determined thermochemical characteristics, gasification of peat would be carried out using updraft and downdraft gasifiers.