The Experimental Production of Fuel Briquettes from Jamaican Biomass
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Renewable sources of energy are necessary to replace traditional fossil fuels. Biomass sources are carbon neutral and are less popular in the Caribbean, especially since many Caricom states lack energy security. This research focuses on determining the characteristics of the biomass briquettes produced from banana leaves and sugar cane bagasse. Both banana leaves and sugar cane bagasse are two abundant agricultural wastes in Jamaica. By using these waste products at particle sizes <0.425mm and 0.425-2.36mm in addition to cassava starch solution (0.05g/cm3 and 0.10g/cm3) as a natural binder, the biomass was compressed into briquettes using a compound lever press. This resulted in the banana leaves increasing from a bulk density as low as 0.20g/cm3 to a briquette density of 0.39g/cm3. The bagasse improved their bulk density from 0.08 g/cm3 to briquette densities as high as 0.25g/cm3. Regarding the mechanical durability, the results indicated that an increase was observed upon increasing the starch binder concentration and decreasing the particle size. Subsequently, the banana leaves briquettes had the lowest durability of 59.17% at large particle size and low starch concentration. However, this was improved to 99.59% once the particle sizes were reduced and the starch concentration increased. The high heating values (HHV) were inversely proportional to the binder concentration in the case of the banana being above 17,00kJ/kg at 0.05g/cm3 and 16,500-16,600kJ/kg at 0.10g/cm3. The HHV for the bagasse ranged from 15,400kJ/kg to 17,700kJ/kg. The biomass-derived fuels could reduce the dependence on imported fossil fuels, especially with their applications in biomass-fired boilers.