By: Muhammad Ahsan Khokhar, SEPLAA Intern.
As part of the SEPLAA Foundation Youth Development Summer Internship Program, two Summer Interns Usama and myself accompanied the SEPLAA Foundation CEO Mrs. Ammara Farooq Malik to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industries’ Seminar on Alternative Energy held on 27th June, 2013.
The event was conducted by the LCCI Standing Committee on Environment in the Jinnah Auditorium.
After the arrival of guests and recitation of Holy Quran, the president of LCCI Mr. Farooq Iftikhar gave the welcome address and the seminar was under way.
As with most of the seminars, we were expecting this one to be based on the traditional wind and solar energy too, but to our surprise (and delight), the speakers (some of the best researchers in Pakistan) had a different point of view about the green alternatives, hence making this gathering a great learning experience for us. The seminar was mainly focused on the implementation of numerous chemical processes for recycling country’s own waste to be used as a fuel for energy making purposes.
Professor Kamran Mehmmood of NUST University presented the notion of producing cheap Bio-Diesel from almost anything containing carbon, though it was mentioned that some seeds such as Jatropha Curcas are the best source for Bio-Diesel. The main attention grabbing element was perhaps the unbelievable cost friendly production of Bio-Diesel with pay back periods as few as three months and consumer retail price as low as Rs. 45/liter. However, the speaker also pointed out a dilemma as he mentioned that even though lands and machinery for experimentation are being greatly subsidized, they are not being used properly and state money is going down the drain.
Muhammad Nasif of Unversity of the Punjab talked about pyrolysis. He said that recyclable plastics can be catalytically broken down to make green fuels, although, most of the plastic waste in Pakistan is non-recyclable. His idea was taken further by Dr. Mehmood Saleem, who presented the concept of using pyrolysis for breaking down agricultural residues into numerous bio-fuels. He proposed numerous ways of making this process possible and cheap enough to be used commercially, which included heating with char, using waste gases of the process as a fuel, and using catalytic cracking.
Dr. Waqar Bukhari from COMSATS, Islamabad, gave the idea of producing steam and heating thermal oils with the help of solar energy. Though the initial cost is high, the savings are substantial cutting down annual fuel bills to as low as Rs. 2.5 million for large scale mills and cutting down payback time to 4-6 years. It was hence not a surprise that his notion was welcomed by the textile mill owners present at the seminar.
The last speaker was Dr. Zaib Hussain from University of the Punjab. The phenomenal lady gave three basic ideas about the future comings of the fossil fuel alternatives. The first two ideas were interlinked, namely Bio-fertilizers and Bio-mass energy. The idea is to use 99% percent of the industrial waste (even newspapers can be used) and to convert that into fertilizers and fuels both of which have barely any adverse affects on the environment as the products are bio-degradable. The third notion presented by the speaker was the use of molten salt and solar power. The idea is to use solar energy as a heat source to melt salt which can then be used to make steam for power generation. The initial cost is extremely high and the project is still under experimentation and tweaking process the results are phenomenal.
In a nut-shell it was a very fruitful and informative session for us.