Pad mounted transformers (PAT) are currently used to convert the energy of wind turbines into electricity for power stations.
Now a study in the Journal of Applied Energy Materials has found that the same process can also be used to produce heat from biomass.
The study, titled “Biosynthesis of a PAD-based heat-producing plant by a biomass-based energy conversion process”, was led by Kavita Bhatia of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Delhi.
The paper describes the process as a biofuel-based thermal energy conversion.
Heat is produced by converting biomass into a heat-rich gas such as methane or CO2, which is then used to drive the plant.
“This heat can then be converted into electricity to power an energy-hungry appliance,” said Bhati.
“By using a PAP, the heat can be stored for later use,” she added.
Bhatian explained that the plant would be able to generate electricity from biomass as it produces heat in its own, separate process.
This means the plant can produce heat in addition to the electricity it uses to run the generator, Bhat said.
Battles of the biofuel fuel cycle, in the case of heat-harvesting plants, have been reported in the past, and researchers in India have long been investigating the process.
The Indian government has been working towards reducing the environmental impacts of energy production by biofuels, but Bhat and her colleagues were able to demonstrate that it could be a powerful energy resource for the country.
The team used PAPs, which can convert biomass into electricity.
The PAP converts the biomass into steam, which then can be converted to CO2.
The CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
In order to produce energy from biomass, the PAP uses the biomass as fuel, which converts the fuel into heat.
The process, which takes less than five minutes, is not expensive to set up.
“The PAP could be used as a means to generate heat from food waste,” Bhat told Nature.
“It can be used for industrial use, for use in power generation, or for biofuel production.”
Bhat was able to produce a heat source of around two-thirds the temperature of coal in the plant, using biomass to generate around 2,500 megawatts of electricity a year.
Birtanath Kavithi, an expert in renewable energy from the National University of Singapore, told Nature that this study is “a big step in the right direction for renewable energy”.
“While PAP-based biomass is not commercially viable, it is an efficient energy source, especially in rural areas,” he said.
“While it is not the most cost-effective, it can be economically viable for large scale scale commercial applications.”
This research was supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Resources, the International Renewable Heat and Power Consortium, the Department of Science and Engineering of the University of Kerala, and the Department for Energy and Climate Change of the Indian Council of Scientific Research.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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