Pine needles to help meet energy needs

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    Large swaths of pine forests covering the lower and middle Himalayas could help in meeting part of the country’s ever increasing energy requirements. The Council if Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has embarked upon a project to produce bio-fuel from fallen pine needles.CSIR’s Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum is undertaking a pilot project in association with the Uttarakhand Government. Turpentine oil will be extracted from dry pine leaves or needles, which are rich in resin and have a high calorific value and the resultant waste would be used for making bio-fuel.Scientists associated with the project said the Himachal Pradesh Government had also evinced interest in the venture, both for economic as well as ecological reasons. Himachal has projected a potential to generate 418 MW of electricity through the use of various types of bio-mass.A cement factory in Himachal is already using pine needles in combination with other combustible elements as bio-fuel while a company in Uttarakhand is producing electricity using pine needles as raw material, which is also a revenue-generating opportunity for locals.Scientists say dry pine needles are both beneficial and harmful. If these fall on bare soil and decompose, they provide valuable mulch and a source of organic matter as well as help in moisture retention, which improves soil quality. However, if these build up in large quantities, these become a fire hazard and susceptible to forest fires, especially during summers.Moreover, a dense network of dry pine needles prevents growth of grass and shrubs that are vital for ecological balance and for checking soil erosion. Closer to built-up areas, pine needles clog gutters and drains. Being damp and slippery, these also make it difficult for humans to walk, if they cover tracks and mountain paths.The Himalayan subtropical pine forests cover about 1.5 million hectares in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. The pine belt stretches almost 3,000 km across the lower elevations of the Himalayas, including Bhutan, Nepal, and parts of north-eastern Pakistan. In India, pine is the second largest planted tree species, though deforestation has severely affected it.The CSIR, along with some other research intuitions and associated government departments, has been engaged in research on bio-fuels for the past few years. It has been exploring the use of other plants and organic matter for producing bio-fuel. The use of jatropha plant for making bio-diesel is one such example.CSIR’s pilot project

    • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum is undertaking a pilot project in association with the Uttarakhand Government
    • Turpentine oil will be extracted from dry pine leaves or needles, which are rich in resin and have a high calorific value and the resultant waste would be used for making bio-fuel
    • Scientists linked with the project said the Himachal Pradesh Government had also evinced interest in the venture

     

    Source : Tribune News