What are briquettes?

Biomass briquettes are a biofuel substitute to coal and charcoal. Briquettes are mostly used in the developing world, where cooking fuels are not as easily available. There has been a move to use briquettes in the developed world, where they are used to heat industrial boilers in order to produce electricity from steam. The briquettes are co-fired with coal in order to create the heat supplied to the boiler.

Briquetting is the process to improve the characteristics of biomass as a renewable energy resource by densification. Densification means less volume needed for the same amount of energy output.

The advantages of processing and densifying of biomass are not only limited to the higher energy content.

Briquetting is based on compacting the raw material to yield certain advantages:

  • High volumetric energy density
  • Favorable dosing characteristics
  • Lower water content in the fuel and therefore greater storage stability (less biodegradation)
  • Option to use additives to change the chemical/material properties
  • Less dust produced when handling
  • High homogeneity of the fuel

The art of briquetting

The reduction of material density is the reason for undertaking briquetting as it determines both the savings in transport and handling costs and any improvement in combustion over the original material: the art of briquetting. This art essentially involves two parts: the compaction under pressure of loose material to reduce its volume and to agglomerate the material so that the product remains in the compressed state.

Later effect, the cohesion of the particles, is based on three main mechanisms:

    • Generating a positive coupling of particles by fiber connections
    • Attraction forces between particles through hydrogen bonds
    • Creating of form-closed bonds through the sticking effect of several biomass contents (lignin, protein, starch) or added binders
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