Characterization of Rice Husk Varieties in Uganda for Biofuels

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Uganda has registered recent successes in rice production making it a potential rice basket for Eastern Africa (Africa Rice Center, 2013). The remarkable rice boom in Uganda is attributed to good farming practices, premium market prices, and favorable policies that have stimulated large private investment in the rice sector over the last few years. As a result, paddy production jumped from about 120,000 t in 2002 to more than 220,000 t in 2011 (Africa Rice Center, 2013).

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Rice husk (RH) is the waste generated during the milling process of rice. On average 20% of the paddy rice is husk (Giddel and Jivan, 2007), giving an annual global total production of about 144 million Mt (FAO, 2011). Several conversion techniques exist that can be utilized to extract energy from rice husks. They include thermo-chemical, bio-chemical and physico-chemical conversion techniques (Delivand et al., 2011). Besides the use of rice husk for production of biofuel, it can also be used to manufacture bio-products such as particle boards, insulation boards, ceiling boards and as a fertilizer.

Moreover, the burning of rice husk under controlled conditions generates rice husk ash (RHA) which is a valuable material for industrial applications due to its high silica content. RHA contains 87“97% silica which can serve as a source for many silicon-based materials (Rozainee et al., 2008). In addition, the ash from biomass fuel contains only trace amounts of heavy metals, which makes them fairly easy to dispose off and can also be a good fertilizer (Olanders and Steenari, 1994).

Despite the potential benefits associated with rice husk,

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