The rice husk (or hull) is the outermost layer of the paddy grain that is separated from the rice grains during the milling process. Around 20% of paddy weight is husk and rice production in Asia produces about 770 million tons of husk annually. It is often burned or dumped into landfills, according to Martin Gummert, postharvest expert at the International Rice Research Institute. Nowadays, however, the Rice Husk has considerable value.
India is one of the biggest rice producers in the world and therefore also produces vast amounts of rice husk. Gyanesh Pandey, an engineer and native of India thought that this was an inexpensive energy source to light up villages outside India’s industrial power grid. He co-founded and is now the CEO of Husk Power Systems (HPS) which is a rural empowerment enterprise that designs, installs, and operates mini power plants using a biomass gasification technology he co-developed.
Rice husk contains 30-59% of organic carbon and has high heat value of 13–16 MJ per kg. It can be used to generate fuel, heat, or electricity through thermal, chemical, or bioprocesses. Rice husk is collected after rice milling, with moisture content of about 14–15%. This fits the requirement for further pretreatment or processing. Thermal processes, including combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis, are applied for rice husk processing. Heat generated from this could be used for house heating and cooking, industrial boilers, drying, and generating electricity. (Pauline Amelinckx)