The production of briquettes as a sustainable fuel alternative has garnered significant attention due to the increasing need for renewable energy sources. Briquettes offer an eco-friendly solution by utilizing waste materials such as sawdust, agricultural residues, and other organic matter.
However, the cohesiveness and quality of briquettes are largely dependent on a critical ingredient – The binder.
The Science Behind Briquette Binders:
Binders are substances that improve the mechanical strength and integrity of briquettes, ensuring they do not crumble or fall apart during handling, storage, or combustion.
They serve to adhere the biomass particles together, resulting in a solid, dense form. The choice of a binder is crucial as it affects the burning efficiency and emission levels of the briquettes, having implications for both the user experience and environmental impact.
The production of briquettes as a sustainable fuel alternative has garnered significant attention due to the increasing need for renewable energy sources. Briquettes, formed by compressing biomass materials, offer an eco-friendly solution by utilizing waste materials such as sawdust, agricultural residues, and other organic matter. However, the cohesiveness and quality of briquettes are largely dependent on a critical ingredient – the binder.
Types of Briquette Binders and Their Advantages:
- Starch Binders:
Starch is a widely used binder because it’s renewable, inexpensive, and food-grade. It forms a gel-like substance when heated and provides excellent binding properties.Typically, starch is used in the range of 5-10% of the total weight of the dry materials in the briquette mix. The exact percentage can depend on the type of biomass and the desired durability of the briquettes
- Starch Binders:
A byproduct of sugar manufacturing, molasses is a sweet, thick liquid that, when combined with lime, creates a strong bond between particles, while contributing to the calorific value of the briquettesMolasses is often used at a rate of 3-5% when paired with lime. Concerning the smell, using molasses as a binder does confer a distinct odor to the briquettes when burning, which some might find unpleasant. This can be mitigated by carefully controlling the amount and ensuring proper drying of the briquettes.
Clay acts as a binder and also provides structural strength to the briquette. Its availability and low cost make it a popular choice in various regionsor clay, a common range is between 10-20% of the total weight. It’s important not to exceed this percentage as it can cause a decrease in the calorific value of the briquettes due to the inert nature of clay. Above 15%, it can also make the briquettes brittle if the clay quality is not optimal.
Q1: Are starch binders environmentally friendly?
A1: Yes, some starch binders are environmentally friendly since they are derived from natural, renewable sources and do not release harmful pollutants when burned.
Q2: Can I make briquettes without using binders?
A2: Yes, you can.Some machines have high compressing power and therefore do not need binders. Ikobriq is a company based in Nairobi kenya that uses RUF machines and no binders are needed.
Q3: How does clay affect the burning of briquettes?
A3: Clay can reduce the rate at which briquettes burn, which can be beneficial for a prolonged burn time. However, it may also reduce the heating value of the briquette if used excessively.
Q4: What are the pros and cons of using synthetic binders?
A4: Synthetic binders can offer excellent binding properties and a high-quality end product. However, they can be more expensive and may not be as environmentally friendly as natural binders.
Q5: Is it possible to use a combination of binders?
A5: Yes, combining different binders can sometimes improve the quality of the briquette by leveraging the advantages of each. For example, using both molasses for energy content and clay for strength.
Q6: How do binders impact the calorific value of briquettes?
A6: Some binders like molasses may contribute to the calorific value of briquettes, while others like clay may dilute it. The choice of binder can therefore slightly affect the overall energy content of the final briquette.