Valorisation of rice husks using a TORBED® combustion process

R. Blissett*, R. Sommerville, N. Rowson, J. Jones, B. Laughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


World production of rice exceeds 750 million tonnes per year of which a fifth is removed in the form of rice husk during the milling process. The use of rice husks as a source of sustainable and renewable energy is often hindered by lack of capital and a poor understanding of rice husk combustion characteristics. This results in the selection of poor quality technology which generates significant quantities of harmful crystalline silica waste. Despite previous work in the area, detailed characterisation of the combustion of rice husk ash in a TORBED reactor across a wide temperature range has not yet been attempted and little effort has been directed towards assessing the economic viability of generating quality rice husk ashes. The use of a TORBED reactor enables low residual carbon after combustion without the generation of harmful crystalline material. Rice husk was combusted in a 400 mm reactor at temperatures between 700 and 950 °C. In the subsequent characterisation studies the resulting materials were shown to be fully amorphous high purity silica (> 95%) and were readily digested in a series of alkaline digestion experiments. Complete silica conversion was only possible using uneconomic Na2O/SiO2 ratios and further optimisation of the combustion process to generate higher surface area material is necessary to increase the digestion rates further. Provisional economic analysis suggests that sales of the by-product enhance the returns from rice husk based power generation. TORBED reactors enable the combustion of rice husk with considerable operating flexibility and they generate products that could be used to displace resource intensive products and processes thus, added value from the by-products can be obtained by using TORBED reactor technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-255
Number of pages9
JournalFuel Processing Technology
Early online date2 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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