Kenaf Bio-Energy

Bio Energy

Kenaf is considered to be one of the highest producers of biomass among plants in terms of tons/land/time.
One hectare of kenaf can produce 15-20 tons of dry matter within a short period of only 120 days.
That means that one hectare can yield 6500 – 9000 liters of ethanol.

As Kenaf fibers can be used as raw material for many uses & applications, separating the fibers from the core can be better alternative.
In that case 1 hectare will yield 5 -7 tons of high quality fibers while the yield of ethanol extracted from the core will be 4500 – 6000 litters.

Field trials that were conducted recently on northern zones such as Ontario, Canada, have proved that Kenaf is not a merely tropical crop:
Kenaf can be grown successfully as source of green clean energy all over the world.
Under warm conditions, 2 growing cycles can be achieved for 1 year.

Paper Pulp

Paper Pulp from Kenaf

The pulp and paper industry has a long history with wood fibers. Wood became the major fiber source for paper in the mid 1800's and has remained so until now, but in earlier times, paper was made exclusively from used rags and other fabrics.
This situation changed between 1851 and 1918 when wood pulp was invented, developed, and industrialized.
Growing demand for paper helped spur research into using the fibers of trees for papermaking. All of the major wood pulping processes, including groundwood, soda, sulphite, and kraft (sulphate), were developed and commercialized during this time. Wood pulp quickly reduced the cost of papermaking, allowing the use of paper in many areas (not only for printing).
While other materials were used for pulping, including bagasse cactus, cudweed, straw, cornstalks, and even cow dung, wood pulp quickly became the preferred source of pulp. By the 1870s, pulp mills were springing up in heavily forested areas in the USA & other Northern countries. These areas continued to grow as key pulp and paper regions throughout the early twentieth century and most remained so in the early 1990s.
The science of pulping continued to expand along with the growth of papermaking.
New awareness to environment protection through the last decades has lead to shortage of raw material for the paper industries.

Although paper industries learned to recycle paper & paperboards, global demand for paper is growing - forcing to look for new sources for paper pulp.
Kenaf is the optimal alternative as raw material – especially in the tropics where Kenaf can be grown all year round.
Most of the studies of Kenaf as raw material were made in temperate zones (Southern USA) where Kenaf is a seasonal crop. Under temperate conditions there is a need of storing dry Kenaf stalks for 10 month under cover. This additional cost reduced paper industries interest in Kenaf advantages.

Kenaf advantages are as follows:

  • Kenaf pulping need less use of chemicals.
  • Kenaf pulping consumes less energy then wood pulping (Kenaf lignin content is lower).
  • Another advantage of Kenaf over wood is its higher rate of production in terms of tons of biomass for land/time units.
  • Growing Kenaf in the tropics offers high flexibility to the industry management: while trees growing cycle is 10 – 25 years, Kenaf growing cycle is 4 – 6 months.

Today there are several companies like Andritz, that possess the technology of Kenaf pulping. Many studies indicate that Kenaf pulp is equal or even better then wood pulp in some aspects. Here rises a question: If Kenaf offers such advantages what are the barriers on the way of paper industries to extend the use of Kenaf for pulping?
The answer is hiding above – most of the industry is located in temperate or cold zones.
Also a huge investment is needed for pulping mill set-up.
To enable existing pulping mill to receive Kenaf stalks rather than wood, some modifications should be done.
Those modifications demand expenses as well.

We strongly believe that pulping Kenaf in the tropics could be a an excellent alternative and optimal solution for economic, social & environmental challenges of our time.


Some figures regarding Kenaf and the environment

  • Kenaf plant absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere more than any other crop - about 1.5 tons of CO2 is needed for a production of 1 ton of dry matter of Kenaf. It means that every hectare of Kenaf consumes 30-40 tons of CO2 for each growing cycle.
  • Figures: during a single growing cycle, each hectare of Kenaf consume the amount of CO2 that exhaust from 20 cars in whole year.
  • Since no chemical pest control is needed, neither toxic nor synthetic products should be applied during growing cycle, hence groing Kenaf benefits the eco-system.
  • Kenaf plant can remove toxic elements, such as heavy metals from the soil.
  • Industrial products made with Kenaf fibers instead of synthetic fibers can be recycled.
    Very important aspects for automotive & construction industries.
  • Kenaf core can be applied as soil remediation in case of hydro carbonates infestations.

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