Exploring the prospective of weeds (Cannabis sativa L., Parthenium hysterophorus L.) for biofuel production through nanocatalytic (Co, Ni) gasification.
Background: While keeping in view various aspects of energy demand, quest for the renewable energy sources is utmost. Biomass has shown great potential as green energy source with supply of approximately 14% of world total energy demand, and great source of carbon capture. It is abundant in various forms including agricultural, forestry residues, and unwanted plants (weeds). The rapid growth of weeds not only affects the yield of the crop, but also has strong consequences on the environment. These weeds can grow with minimum nutrient input requirements, have strong ability to grow at various soil and climate environments with high value of cellulose, thus can be valuable source of energy production. Results: Parthenium hysterophorus L. and Cannabis sativa L. have been employed for the production of biofuels (biogas, biodiesel and biochar) through nano-catalytic gasification by employing Co and Ni as nanocatalysts. Nanocatalysts were synthesized through well-established sol-gel method. SEM study confirms the spherical morphology of the nanocatalysts with size distribution of 20-50 nm. XRD measurements reveal that fabricated nanocatalysts have pure standard crystal structure without impurity. During gasification of Cannabis sativa L., we have extracted the 53.33% of oil, 34.66% of biochar and 12% gas whereas in the case of Parthenium hysterophorus L. 44% oil, 38.36% biochar and 17.66% of gas was measured. Electrical conductivity in biochar of Cannabis sativa L. and Parthenium hysterophorus L. was observed 0.4 dSm-1 and 0.39 dSm-1, respectively. Conclusion: Present study presents the conversion of unwanted plants Parthenium hysterophorus L. and Cannabis sativa L. weeds to biofuels. Nanocatalysts help to enhance the conversion of biomass to biofuel due to large surface reactivity. Our findings suggest potential utilization of unwanted plants for biofuel production, which can help to share the burden of energy demand. Biochar produced during gasification can replace chemical fertilizers for soil remediation and to enhance the crop productivity.