Estimation of potential hydrogen production from palm kernel shell in Norte de Santander, Colombia
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This work sought to estimate the economic and environmental potential of palm kernel shell for hydrogen production as energy vector in Norte de Santander, Colombia. A field research determined that the department generates monthly 14082 t of palm biomass of which 12501 of palm kernel shell remain available for their use. The proximate and ultimate analyses of the palm kernel shell report high heating value (19.53 MJ/kg) compared with other agro-industrial biomasses, high content of volatile material (69.82% w/w) and fixed carbon (21.68% w/w), promoters of chemical reactions in pyrolysis and gasification processes, respectively. In the Aspen Plus® simulation process of the palm kernel shell gasification at 900 °C and steam/biomass ratio of 1.5, a yield is obtained of hydrogen production of 40.7%, equivalent to a monthly production in Norte de Santander of 51.6 t. Using H2 in the generation of electric power permits producing 470.9 MWh/month that represent theoretical utilities of US$27734.5. In another scenario, 55848.8 gal/month of gasoline are substituted, equivalent to US$11708.6 through the sale of carbon credits. Regarding diesel, 45905.1 gal are replaced per month, which add US$9725.4 through the commercial transaction in the carbon market. It is concluded that using palm kernel shell as primary source to obtain H2, has, in principle, a favorable economic and environmental impact for sustainable development of the department of Norte de Santander, besides contributing to the knowledge base on the penetration of this vector in Colombia's energy matrix; however, more detailed technical and economic studies are needed to conclude regarding the economic viability of this energy conversion process.