Fuel from fruit

Banana leaves can now be converted into an energy-rich fuel. Researchers at the Centre of Biochemical Technology (CBT), New Delhi, have devised two methods to generate fuel from banana leaves. V C Kalia, a scientist at CBT's biotechnology division, says that one method called pellitisation or briquetting involves crushing banana leaves into powder and adding a binder like clay or cowdung to it, and convert it into pellets. The pellets or briquettes contain a calorific value of about 2,500 kilo calories (kcal) per kg dry matter. The calorific value of coal varies between 3,000-5,000 kcal per kg depending on the quality of coal. In the second method called biomethanation, leaves are digested by anaerobic in the presence of methane-producing bacteria that helps in biodegradation. The reaction, which takes place for 60 days, produces gases that contain nearly 55 per cent methane. Banana leaves are renewable source of energy. Thus, effluent from reactors can again be processed to produce fuel with the same calorific value.