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Wood Energy


Biomass is the most common form of renewable energy sources. The use of biomass to provide energy has been fundamental to the development of civilization. Out of different forms of plant biomass the potential of woody biomass has been well established in satisfying the domestic and industrial energy requirements. The wood fuel has advantages over fossil fuel due to various environmental concerns. Today, the wood energy has been entered into a new phase of high importance and visibility with climate change and energy security concerns. Also it is locally available and is a cost effective alternative energy sources. Use of wood, as a potential feedstock for various energy conversion devises has been well established. Wood energy is considered as a carbon neutral and socially viable source of renewable energy, with a condition that it should arise from sustainably managed resources (forests, trees outside forests, etc.). Due to strict environmental regulations and forest protection policies there is hardly any supply of wood as feedstock from the forest. The demand of wood as feedstock, on sustainable basis, has therefore, necessitated the raising of suitable fast growing tree species for energy purposes. The planted forests have strategic significance in terms of both energy security and environmental sustainability. They are found to be suitable energy feedstock that can be converted into higher energy content fuels through direct combustion, thermo-chemical conversion and biochemical conversion processes.


  • Utilization of wood and other forest biomass for energy production

Thrust Areas

  • Biofuel and bioenergy from forest

Research Activities

Biomass fuels consist of both woody and non-woody biomass. They can either be burned directly in a furnace or can be converted into high energy content fuels. The factors that influence the choice of conversion process are: the type and quantity of biomass feedstock; the desired form of the energy and economic. Out of many factors the availability of raw material (type and quantity) is very important. The high density, higher calorific value, and high fixed carbon along with low ash percentage make the wood feedstock preferred over agriculture waste.

A systematic research on screening various forest biomasses based on the basic fuel properties (basic density, calorific value, fixed carbon and ash content etc) is being carried out. The biomass energy conversion technologies fall into two major categories- thermo-chemical and bio-chemical conversion. As it is also important to underline the form (solid, liquid and gas) in which the energy is required. The research on pyrolysis of wood and bamboo biomass is carried out and process conditions for charcoal (based on higher yield and energy content) are optimized. The gasification of forest biomass (wood and bamboo) is also carried out for production of second generation biodiesel from wood waste by Fischer-Tropsch process.


Gasifier   Wood waste

The division is also carrying out studies related to production of biodiesel from tree borne oil seeds. In Indian context, the use of edible oils for engine fuel is not feasible; however, there are several non-edible oilseed species such as Karanja (Pongamia pinnata), Jatropha (Jatropha curcas), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Mahua (Madhuca indica), Simarouba (Simarouba indica) etc., which are potential source for production of oil. Microwave assisted extraction and transesterification of P. pinnata seed oil was carried out.

Significant achievements

  • The variability in fuel properties (basic density, calorific value, proximate and elemental analysis) of Eucalyptus hybrid, Acacia auriculaeformis and Casurina equisetifolia (1 to 6 years) with age and height was carried out and compared with mature trees (20 year old). The results show a marginal increase in the calorific value with tree age at lower age trees. In general, the fuel properties of mature tree were found to be better than trees of smaller age.

  • The yield and other fuel properties (calorific value, proximate and elemental analysis) of charcoal prepared from C. equisetifolia, E. hybrid, A. auriculaeformis and A. nilotica at different experimental conditions (carbonisation temperature and heating rate) were evaluated. In all the selected species, the char yield decreases significantly with the increase in the carbonization temperature. Among the selected fast growing plantation species, the E. hybrid was found to give better yield and higher carbon content, probably because of more lignin content and anatomical structure. A definite trend of increase in the calorific value of char with carbonization temperature upto 6000C has been noticed. However, further increase in temperature resulted in reduction in calorific value due to higher proportion of ash in char. The yield and other fuel properties of charcoal prepared from different bamboo species i.e., D. brandisii, D. stocksii, D. strictus and B. bambos were also evaluated.

  • Microwave assisted transesterification of P. pinnata seed oil was carried out for the production of biodiesel. The experiments were carried out using methanol and two alkali catalysts i.e., sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH). The experiments were carried out at 6:1 alcohol/oil molar ratio and 60 0C reaction temperature. The effect of catalyst concentration and reaction time on the yield and quality of biodiesel was studied. The result of the study suggested that 0.5% sodium hydroxide and 1.0% potassium hydroxide catalyst concentration were optimum for biodiesel production from Pongamia pinnata oil under microwave heating. There was a significant reduction in reaction time for microwave induced transesterification as compared to conventional heating.

Completed projects

  1. Studies on fuel properties, carbonization and characterization of charcoal from selected bamboo species

  2. Fuel properties of important forest weeds

  3. Study on combustion characteristics and fuel properties of roots of selected agroforestry species

  4. Carbonization of selected fuelwood species

  5. Estimation of demand and supply of fuelwood and other available biomass in two districts (Kolar and Tumkur) of Karnataka

  6. Study on microwave assisted extraction and transesterification of Pongamia pinnata (L.) seed oil

  7. Production of clean producer gas from wood waste

Ongoing Programmes:

  1. Growth & yield studies on forest plantations of teak in Karnataka for their sustainable management

  2. Study the effect of microwave assisted heating and seed storage conditions on quality of P. pinnata (L.) seed oil for cost effective production of biodiesel

  3. Production of Synthetic biodiesel from wood wastes




Bomb calorimeter   Mechanical oil expeller
Microwave synthesis unit   TGA 701- Proximate analyser



Gas chromotagraphy

Mechanical oil expeller

Microwave synthesis unit

Bomb calorimeter

Proximate analyser

Carbonisation Kiln

Muffle furnace

Pellet making press

Hot Air Oven

Power chain saw

Increment borer

Digitech professional caliper

Electronic Clinometer

Vertex laser VL 402

High pressure air compressor




Sl no.




Determination of calorific value

Rs.1000/- (Including charges for sample preparation)


Proximate Analysis (Fixed Carbon, Volatile  matter, Moisture content & ash content) of the Biomass/ Charcoal

Rs 3000/- (including sample preparation charges)


Research Staff

For further information, Please contact:

The Head

Wood Energy Division

Institute of Wood Science and Technology

P.O. Malleshwaram

Bangalore-560 003 (India)

Email: we_iwst@icfre.org

Ph: 080-22190202


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  Last Updated on 03-08-2015