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Microwave Pyrolysis of Lignocellulosic Biomass, a Contribution to Power Africa

Authors: Saifuddin Nomanbhay, Bello Salman, Refal Hussain and Mei Yin Ong

Journal: Energy, Sustainability and Society

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Worldwide efforts are being made to increase the use of renewable energy in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Africa is blessed with abundant resources of fossil fuels as well as renewable energy resources. Yet the continent, especially sub-Saharan Africa, is afflicted with power crisis. For example, in Nigeria, erratic electricity supplies will persist unless the government diversifies her energy sources and adopt new technologies available in the electricity generation sector. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has called for promotion of increased utilization of the continent’s vast renewable energy resources to accelerate development. This review examines the perspective of renewable energy from biomass as an important strategy for a sustainable development in Nigeria. The paper also addresses the use of pyrolysis technology, an efficient thermo-chemical process for energy applications. However, the study presents on applications either to replace fossil fuel in an existing diesel engine-based power generation system or to generate electricity using a gas engine. The work also presented herein addresses the use of industrial- and non-industrial-derived biomass residues for energy purposes with specific example on solid palm oil residues in Nigeria. The current status of pyrolysis technology and its potential for commercial application for bio-fuel production using microwave-assisted pyrolysis in Nigeria are presented. This study will extensively review the recent work on microwave-assisted technology applied to the pyrolysis process. It is estimated that electrical power generation potential at about 500 MW can be obtained by using only the available residues from oil palm industry in Nigeria. This potential can be increased 10-fold with more emphasis on expansion and modernization of oil palm industry in Nigeria. This will benefit in terms of higher revenue from the palm oil export as well as higher renewable energy generation from its biomass residue using the microwave-assisted pyrolysis technology.

Illustration Photo: A mobile pyrolysis system for on-farm production of bio-oil from agricultural waste (credits: USDA-ARS photo by Mark Schaffer / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

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