Himachal to ensure optimum use of pine needles as a substitute to Biomass

The State Government is endeavouring to evolve a mechanism to put into use the pine needles and pine cones so as to protect the precious forest wealth and also bring into use this forest biomass. When the pine trees shed these needles, it ends up covering the lands within the forest. The mounds of needles also catch fire and become highly combustible, after it gets dry and causes much damage to the flora and fauna.

Pine needles serve as important forest biomass materials available with serious implications on local understory vegetation besides incidences of forest fires which have both short and long-term effects on the environment. The biomass can be put to varied uses by proper exploration of its constituent biopolymers.

In an attempt to reduce pollution, IIT Mandi’s Centre for Innovative Technology for the Himalayan region upgraded a new innovative solution which uses pine needles as an alternative for biomass. The Centre has come up with a unique machine that can produce briquettes and pellets from pine needles as the pine needles are harmful to the ecology, diversity, and economy in the Himalayan region.

The State Government is also supporting the project as it includes sustainable factors. The machine will be used for briquetting of pine needles as well as other biomasses. IIT Mandi is working with the State Government to set up such plants in the whole of Himachal.

Besides, pine needles based briquettes are environmentally friendly because it has decidedly less sulphur and other harmful elements. Pine cones are found in abundance in the Himachal region. It is easily combustible and also contributes to reducing greenhouse gases, caused by the toxic gases of fossil fuels.

“Many sectors like thermal power, cement and steel are exploring fossil fuel substitutes to reduce emissions. Thus, the scope can be expanded to include fuel briquettes made from pine needles as potential substitutes, which has the advantage of much higher calorific value and this will also pave the way for strengthening the rural economy”, said Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

A pilot project for Bio-energy production from pine needles and bamboo will also be initiated as the State is blessed with an enormous wealth of conifer forests and has a high potential for bamboo production, said Sh. Sukhu.

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