CHARACTERIZATION OF WATER HYACINTH (EICHHORNIA CRASSIPES) COMPOSITE BRIQUETTE AS AN ALTERNATIVE DOMESTIC ENERGY SOURCE
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University of Eldoret
Biomass is one of the most promising energy sources to mitigate greenhouse gas emission during production and utilization. However, majority of biomass are not suitable to be utilized as fuel without an appropriate process since they are bulky, uneven and have low energy density. These characteristics make them difficult in handling, storage, transport and utilization. One of the promising solutions to overcome these problems is the briquetting technology. The study was conducted to characterize water hyacinth composite briquette as an alternative domestic energy source. Water hyacinth was chopped using a shredder and left for two weeks in a heap to partially decompose. The material was thoroughly mixed manually with dried and crushed charcoal dust and cow dung in the ratios of water hyacinth: charcoal dust: cow dung of 100:0:0 (control), 80:10:10, 70:20:10, 70:10:20, 60:30:10, 60:20:20 and 60:10:30 (by weight). The resulting material was then mixed into soupy slurry in water. Simple prototype briquetting mold was fabricated to facilitate densification of these residues into hollow cylindrical briquette at a pressure of 1MPa. The experimental results revealed that the mixture that gave optimal combustion characteristics was 60:30:10 and the calorific values ranged from 16.215 to 21.585 MJ/kg. Water hyacinth alone (100:0:0) gave the best emission characteristics having 28.51 ppm carbon monoxide and 452.80 ppm carbon dioxide though ranking third with 13,623 μg/m3 in particulate matter. For quality control, water hyacinth composite briquette gave good indications on physical parameters that were measured. The results showed that resistance to water penetration range from 79.5% to 88%, durability index range from 57.9% to 99.6% with 60:30:10 and 60:20:20 ratios exhibiting poor index of 57.88% and 59.23 respectively probably due to high charcoal dust content which is known to have low bonding. The rest of mixtures gave 80% and above, with water hyacinth (100:0:0 ratio) showing the highest durability index of 99.63% probably because of partial decomposition which increases the binding effect of biomass. Equilibrium moisture content range from 8.5% to 15.2% at 29 oC and 58% relative humidity; water hyacinth alone was having the highest. This study therefore demonstrates that water hyacinth composite briquette have good physical and combustion characteristics and can therefore be utilized as alternative domestic energy source.