Hitachi Limited, just the other day announced the development of a new technology that will use bamboo for fuel in biomass power generation and boilers instead of wood fuel. The new technology was triggered into action courtesy of the reduced use and demand of bamboo in japan. In japan, bamboo forests have grown exponentially and now have become a serious problem, case in point the Kyushu region.
But unlike with timber where the by-product is carbon dioxide, bamboo produces very high amounts of potassium and chlorine since they saturate the bamboo plant. The byproducts of burning bamboo would damage the combustion equipment as well as environment when it is burnt.
Hitachi, the leading machinery, and electronics maker, however, with the new technology they have developed have found a way around that – a way to turn bamboo into a harmless fuel like many other biomass fuels. Hitachi will reduce the potassium and chlorine densities by crushing bamboo into tiny particles measuring less than 6 millimeters wide and inserting them in water.
The water in which the bamboo is immersed can then be used as a fertilizer for the plants in the event it is condensed Hitachi says.
In addition to bamboo being in low demand in japan, the other reason the company sort to look for alternative energy sources in bamboo plants is the long life issue of deforestation. Generally, one needs to have about 10 tons of wood to produce just 1 ton of wood charcoal. Clearly, trees are not an efficient source of fuel. The world over, trees are cut every day to provide fuel to run industries and homes as well.
Adding to this, trees take ages to grow. When trees take about 60 years to come to maturity, bamboo plants only need 3 years to mature and be used as a source of fuel. This makes bamboo trees an ideal source of fuel.
The entire bamboo plant, from the tip to the rhizomes can be used to make charcoal making bamboo efficient and with minimal waste.
The project was developed in a two-year project that was led by the Forestry Agency in partnership with the cities of Kitakyushu and Yame both of which are in the Kyushu region. This new technology can be used to other materials that are untapped as well including weeds, cedar bark, and bamboo grass. In future projects, the company promises to consider getting solutions to such fuels.