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Development of Biomass Energy Technologies and Business Models for Southern Africa

[+] Author Affiliations
Malena Agyemang

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Nathan G. Johnson

Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ

Paper No. DETC2015-48033, pp. V02AT03A047; 9 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2A: 41st Design Automation Conference
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, August 2–5, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5707-6
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


This study evaluates options for biomass pellet formulations and business models to create a sustainable energy solution for cooking energy in Southern Africa. Various agricultural wastes and agro-processing wastes are investigated to meet industry standards on biomass pellet quality. These fuels are obtained from farms and facilities across a geographic area that affects the end-cost of the pellet through transportation costs and the cost of the biomass. The technical performance of the pellet and cost of the pellet are first contrasted and then optimized in unison to develop sustainable energy options that can provide year-round clean energy for household cooking and heating needs. A market was analyzed using wheat, sugarcane and maize crops as components for the biomass pellet fuel source in the Zululand district of South Africa. Using a target moisture content (MCtarget) of 8–10%, a target lower heating value (LHVtarget) greater than 16.0 MJ/kg and a target percent ash (Ashtarget) less than 3%, pellet metrics were optimized. The cost of the crops for the pellets was dependent upon the amount of each biomass used to make up the composition of the pellet. The production demand was then analyzed based on the most current consumer cooking fuel demand within South Africa. The production model was evaluated for three factory sizes; small (1hr/ton), medium (3hr/ton), and large (5hr/ton). Primary shipping cost is based on factory location and has a major impact on the cost of the pellet for the consumer as well as the availability of the supply. Factory location was analyzed by varying the biomass crop distance to the factory. Several business models are evaluated within this study to show which representation results in a high quality pellet of low cost to consumer. The study suggests the pellet be composed of 44.62% sugarcane, 47.49% maize, and 0.82% wheat resulting in a LHV of 16.00 MJ/kg, a MC of 8 (w/w%), and an ash content of 3 (w/w%). The optimal cost of the biomass fuel pellet for the consumer ranged from 172.77US$/ton to 185.03 US$/ton.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Biomass



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