Rice Plant

Furfural from Paddy (Rice) Husks

Global rice production is around 465 million tons (Jan 2013) [1], which results ±120 million tonnes of rice husks. The nutritional value of the husks is very low and they take very long to decompose, i.e. they are not appropriate for composting. The pentosan content of husks is suitable for furfural production, but its high silica content has in the past been ‘blamed’ as the cause for the failure of at least two furfural plants (one in the USA and one in Italy).

However, we (and other researchers) have found that the silica content does not affect the production of furfural. It can be dealt with by choosing the right material handling and combustion equipment.

A small plant in India has been producing furfural from rice husks for the last three years.

Our pilot plant testing of rice husks have that they make furfural ‘beautifully’ and that its lignocellulosic residue is better suitable for e.g. co-generation of electricity, than the husk itself. The resulting rice husk ash is very high (80-90%) in silica content, which would be suitable for a variety uses, for example:

  Aggregates and fillers for concrete and board production.

  Economical substitute for microsilica / silica fumes

  Absorbents for oils and chemicals

  Soil ameliorants

  Source of silicon

  Insulation powder in steel mills

  Release agent in the ceramics industry

  Insulation material for homes and refrigerants

  etc. (dpcleantech.com)

  etc. (ricehuskash.com)

References: [1irri.org

About Biomass & Furfural

  For owners of biomass we offer technology and market access, creating investment opportunities in the cleantech space. Contact us to discuss the potential your biomass has for the production of furfural.

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This article is part of a series on “biomass for furfural” production, which provides our clients with updates and analysis on the fundamentals and competitiveness of a variety of feedstock.

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