Philrice promotes UC-Davis fuel-efficient rice hull gasifier

MANILA, Philippines -- A University of California (UC)-Davis inspired rice hull gasifier is being promoted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) as a cost-effective and nature-friendly gasifier for irrigation pumps in farflung rainfed areas.

Since the Philippines has abundant rice hull produced at 2.9 million metric tons (MT) yearly, the rice hull gasifier must be a very economical fuel source for running irrigation pumps, according to Philrice experts led by Engr. Arnold S. Juliano.

''There is an increased interest in rice hull gasification technology due to rapidly increasing cost of fuel,'' according to Juliano and three other researchers in a report presented at Philrice's Research and Development Conference.

Fuel produced from one metric ton of rice hull is equivalent to 360 liters of diesel fuel or 408 liters of gasoline.

Philrice has produced two designs of the rice hull gasifier. One designed from a gasifier from UC Davis, the other from NEDO of Japan. Both resulted from previous collaborative projects with Philrice.

The advantage of these gasifiers is their mobility. These machines may be transported up and down the uplands. That also makes it less expensive since stationary systems require a permanent concrete area.

The rice hull gasifier only requires an investment of P65,000 per machine.

While it has a lower discharge capacity of seven liters per second compared to gasoline pump's 11 liters or even lower than diesel pump's 13 liters, its water pumping cost is at a significantly lower at P0.96 per cubic meter.

The rice hull gasifier generates savings of 36.58 percent when compared to gasoline pump's cost of P1.52 per cubic meter and a 44.22 percent savings compared to diesel's P1.72 per cubic meter.

Fuelling an irrigation pump is only one of the uses of this ricehull gasifier. It can also be used for fuelling a village-type rice mill with an input capacity of 54 kilos per hour.

''It can run brown rice mill and paddy separator simultaneously with 62 kilos per hour input capacity. Fifty kilos of paddy is milled for 48 minutes with 15 kilos of rice hull produced,'' according to the Philrice researcher J. A. Ramos and L. B. Molinawe.

Aside from the cost benefits of the gasifier, Philrice also stressed the importance of ricehull as an environment-friendly fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emission. Burned rice hull waste can also be used as soil conditioner for seedbed and as an organic fertilizer for rice production. The liquid waste of the scrubber can also be used as organic pest control agent for vegetables.

The rice hull gasifier has a loading capacity of four kilos. It can be used to pump irrigation both in an open water source and a shallow tube well. Engine speed is 2,085 revolutions per minute for open water source.

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