German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp Industries on Tuesday said it was developing biomass boilers for producing renewable energy from crop residues using a proprietary water-cooled vibrating grate technology from the Danish firm Babcock & Wilcox Volund A/S.

Burning of crop waste in the field has been one of the primary reasons for pollution in northern India during winter. Through this agreement, “we will be able to find a sustainable solution to this issue by utilising this crop waste for clean energy generation,”said Thyssenkrupp CEO and MD, Vivek Bhatia said.

According to Bhatia, Babcock & Wilcox’s water-cooled vibrating grate technology for biomass boilers can address various biomass fuels, even those with high alkali and chlorine content.”

The company said such boilers would be used not only in India, but also in neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan.

The tie-up was announced on a day, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Secretary C K Mishra said the quest for implementable solutions to stubble burning and the attendant atmospheric pollution would require the key stakeholders – farmers, industry and government to work in tandem.

“The government would have to set up demonstration projects to convince the farmers of the need to do away with stubble burning, industry would need to step up production of machines and implements acceptable to the farmers and the technological solutions will have to be home-grown through vigorous research and innovation,” Mishra said

While addressing a conference organised by FICCI, he said there was a need to understand the problem from the farmer’s perspective. “The pollution-impact of stubble burning was far less impressionable to the farmer than the price he gets for his produce.

The need, therefore, was to zero in on a few solutions that be implemented on the ground,” Mishra said.

Water-cooled vibrating grate technology

The water-cooled vibrating grate was developed for combustion of biomass and multi-fuels with little or almost no ash content. Over the past several decades, this grate has proven to be effective for its high availability, low maintenance cost and low consumption of spare parts. It is particularly well-suited for fuels with high alkali and chlorine content, such as rice straw – a common by-product of agriculture in India and other countries in the region.

“This agreement with Thyssenkrupp Industries India is an important step for B&W Vølund in accessing the growing renewable energy market in India,” said Koen W. Bogers, Managing Director, B&W Vølund A/S.

“Our proven biomass combustion technology will help industrial and power users produce clean, renewable energy while helping reduce the environmental impact from the combustion of rice straw and other waste fuels.”

Meanwhile, Jasbir Singh Awla, Chair, FICCI Bioenergy Committee and Managing Director, Sukhbir Agro Energy Ltd, said Punjab, eastern UP and other paddy producing states generate 30 million tonnes of paddy straw. Owing to high silica content, paddy straw cannot be use as fodder and there is pressure on the farmers to clear the fields within 20 days to make the land suitable for wheat sowing. He called for government incentives to make heavy-duty machines such as fork lifters to clear the stubble.