Kenaf for a Sustainable Economy: Integrating Insulation Boards Production with Fossil Energy Savings
Correia, F., Fernando, A.L.
The intention of this work was to evaluate the energy balance of cultivation and use of kenaf in the production of integrated thermal insulation boards based on life cycle analysis. Several scenarios were considered in this study. Two hypotheses were tested in the production of insulation boards: a) fully bark kenaf fiber-based, produced in Portugal b) incorporation of polyester into bark kenaf fiber. As the core fiber has a very high heat capacity, which can be economically tapped for energy production, two solutions were also studied: a) the core fiber is used by the board producer in a small thermal power plant, b) the core fiber is channeled into the production of pellets, which are marketed to be burned in home systems. The results show that the ratio energy output/energy input is greater than unity and the energy balance is positive in all scenarios. Therefore, considering the energy feature, the use of kenaf to produce energy and insulating panels is a possibility, in Portugal. The most advantageous scenario is the one in which the insulation board is made from fully bark kenaf fiber and in which the core fiber is burned in a small thermal power plant, located in the panels manufacturing unit. In this scenario, the energy input is the lowest, although in terms of energy output pellets are more productive due to the higher efficiency of the boiler. The incorporation of recycled polyester into the panel is a disadvantage because its production has a high energy cost. In the sensitivity analysis performed, the studied factors that most affect the efficiency of the system were the level of nitrogen fertilizer, the yield, the thermal efficiency of power generating units and more significantly, the possibility of energy recovery associated with insulated panels in the end of its life cycle.
bioenergy, energy balance, kenaf, sustainability, insulation board
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