by Sunil C.
A recent survey carried out by a group of
scientists attached to the Rice Processing Research and
Development Centre and the Resource Management Associate Ltd.
say an average of 50 percent of paddy husk produced by rice
mills use husk as their fuel for steam generation.
Scientists D. P. Senanayaka, , U. Daranagama and M. D.
Fernando said that the paddy husk is a major by-product of the
rice milling industry and at present around 540,000 metric tons
of husk areproduced annually.
According to the research, in the majority of rice processing
areas, husk is considered as waste material and its disposal
often create environmental problems.
The Sscientists said an average of 44 percent of husk
produced is left unutilized in all mill clusters in Anuradhapura
and Polonnaruwa districts.
According to their estimates, available husk could produce
over 20 mega watts of electricity.
The rice processing industry produces more than 2.5 million
metric tons of rice each year and provides a large number with
employment, particularly women in rural areas.
At present, around 7000 rice mills operate in the country.
However, in the majority of rice processing areas, rice husk is
considered a waste material and its disposal often creates
The scientists alsosaid modern rice mills have improved
technologies to generate thermal energy from paddy husk. The
results of this study reveals that there was a trend to improve
existing rice mills in the North Central Province to produce
high quality rice to the market. However, present data on rice
mills improvement say around 13 per cent mills have improved
their machineries to produce quality rice in that province.
The study has revealed that an average of 48 per cent of husk
produced by the mills is used as a fuel for steam generation.
Faced with fuel wood shortage in the country, rural
industries have been forced to use rice husk as an alternative
fuel. There has been a number of government and industrial
initiatives to use existing fuel wood resources more efficiently
and introduce alternative biomass fuels such as rice husk.
Various forms of assistance have been given to bakeries, the
tea industry, drying of tobacco, brick and tile manufacturers.
The scientists say rice husk could be used as an industrial
fuel, but needs improved technology.
Meanwhile, the scientists opined that more than 90% of Sri
Lanka’s bakeries use firewood to fuel their ovens, accounting
for 9% of total biomass fuel used in the country as of 1995.