Thermo – Chemical Characteristics of Potential Gasifier Fuels in selected Regions of the Lake Victoria Basin
Mosiori, Geoffrey Osoro
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Gasification technology has failed to take off in a number of developing countries including East Africa despitebeing the most efficient way of converting biomass into energy. All countries in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) depend mostly on hydroelectric power for provision of modern energy.While hydropower is sensitive to climate change, gasification technology has a high potential for reducing biomass energy consumption while increasing access to electricity and clean cooking facilities thus improving income and livelihoods. The key aspect for failure is the insufficient adaption of gasification equipment to fuels characteristics, fuel specification and inadequate material choice of system components. The study investigated thermo-chemical characterization of six biomass fuels, namely Pinus caribaea, Calitris robusta, Cupressus lustitanica, Eucalyptus grandis, Pinus patula and sugarcane bagasse in selected regions of Lake Victoria Basin ((LVB). Ultimate analysis was determined using Flash 2000 elemental analyser. Moisture content, ash content and volatile matter (proximate analysis) were determined in an oven and muffle furnace while heating values were determined using Gallenkamp Auto bomb calorimeter. The mean percentage levels obtained in this study indicates that all the six biomass fuel had mean range for N between 0.07 ± 0.2 and0.25±0.07, C, 40.45 ± 0.61 and 48.88 ± 0.29, H, 4.32 ± 0.13 and 5.59 ± 0.18 and O, 43.41 ± 1.58 and 51.1 ± 0.64. For Proximate analysis, moisture content ranged between 25.74 ± 1.54 and 56.69 ± 0.52, ash content,0.38 ± 0.02 and 2.94 ± 0.14, volatile matter, 74.68 ± 0.49 and 82.71 ± 0.19 and fixed carbon, 14.35 ± 0.33 and 24.74 ± 0.27. The Heating values ranged between 16.95 ± 0.10 and 19.48 ± 0.42 MJ/kg. Cupressus lustitanica from Kakamega gave 49.09 ± 0.16 % C compared to that of Kodera which gave 47.96±0.75 %.Pinus caribaeafrom Wakiso gave 0.27±0.08 % N compared to Kodera which gave 0.16 ± 0.04 %.Energy content of Pinus patula from Kodera was19.48 ± 0.30 MJ/Kg compared to that of Kibiri which was 17.87 ± 0.05 MJ/Kg. The theoretical syngas composition as calculated from thermodynamic equilibrium model gave the percentage range of CO2 as between 9.79 ± 0.11 and 13.02 ± 0.26, H2, 15.04 ± 0.54 and 16.52 ± 0.43 and CO, 24.39 ± 1.43 and 26.66 ± 1.78. The results suggest that all the six biomass fuels are potential biomass gasification materials, but considerations should be made on the gasifier type to be used.