More than twice the size of Texas with the majority of its land being protected rainforest, the Brazilian state of Amapá is replete with potential sources of bioenergy. One source of biomass, the widely eaten local acai berry, features a seed that could potentially be used as fuel.

The lack of consistency among acai suppliers and the different types of plant tissue, however, make it difficult to use as a regular source of energy. New work on the properties of different parts of waste from the acai plant has revealed insights on how people in areas where it grows can use it as a source of energy.

Bufalino et al. completed an analysis of the variability and physical properties of waste from acai plants to determine the best way to burn parts of the waste for energy. Coupling measurements of moisture content and density with thermogravimetric analysis, the authors found that acai waste varied vastly from supplier to supplier and developed best practices to using the waste for fuel.

The group discovered that the average yield of acai waste varied from 71 to 95 percent while dry basis moisture content varied from 66.6 to 76.2 percent. Through thermogravimetric analysis, this variation among suppliers was also reflected in the initial degradation temperatures and mass loss rates for seeds and fibers.

Because of the variation, the researchers recommend suppliers use a drying process before providing acai waste. They also suggest separating seeds from the lignocellulosic fibers to ensure the charcoal they are processed into prior to burning has uniform thermal properties.

Source: “Local variability of yield and physical properties of açaí waste and improvement of its energetic attributes by separation of lignocellulosic fibers and seeds,” by Lina Bufalino, Arqueanise Andrade Guimarães, Breno Marques da Silva e Silva, Rafael Lucas Figueiredo de Souza, Isabel Cristina Nogueira Alves de Melo, Dhimitrius Neves Paraguassú Smith de Oliveira, and Paulo Fernando Trughilo, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (2018). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5027232.