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PRODUCTION OF PLASTER OF PARIS USING SOLAR ENERGY

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Plaster of Paris (POP) is an important building material. Most of the units producing POP are in small scale sector. These units use wood, coal to calcine gypsum. The average consumption of wood to produce one ton of POP is 300kg. The electrical energy constitutes only 5% while rest is thermal energy. Most of POP units are situated in western Rajasthan. This region has about 300-320 days of clear sun shine. Since thermal energy has major contribution in energy mix, it makes sense to supplement the same with concentrated solar technology. Experiments were conducted to establish feasibility. A commercial parabolic concentrator of 4 sqm was used to calcine small samples (5kg) and the result show great promise. An industrial method of producing POP using commercially available solar concentrator technologies (CST) has been proposed. The payback period is observed to be of the order of 4 years
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Dr. H.N. ACHARYA* et al ISSN: 2319 - 1163
Volume: 2 Issue: 4 516 - 519

PRODUCTION OF PLASTER OF PARIS USING SOLAR ENERGY

1 Dr. H.N. Acharya, 2Dr. Ajay Chandak
1Former Professor and head department of physics, Indian Institute of Technology Khararpur,
2PRINCE, Suman Foundation, Shamgiri, Agra Road, Deopur, DHULE
harnarayan@gmail.com, renewable.india@gmail.com

Abstract
Plaster of Paris (POP) is an important building material. Most of the units producing POP are in small scale sector. These units use
wood, coal to calcine gypsum. The average consumption of wood to produce one ton of POP is 300kg. The electrical energy constitutes
only 5% while rest is thermal energy. Most of POP units are situated in western Rajasthan. This region has about 300-320 days of clear
sun shine. Since thermal energy has major contribution in energy mix, it makes sense to supplement the same with concentrated solar
technology. Experiments were conducted to establish feasibility. A commercial parabolic concentrator of 4 sqm was used to calcine
small samples (5kg) and the result show great promise. An industrial method of producing POP using commercially available solar
concentrator technologies (CST) has been proposed. The payback period is observed to be of the order of 4 years.

Keywords: Gypsum, Plaster of Paris, Solar energy, Scheffler reflector, parabolic concentrator

---------------------------------------------------------------------***-------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. INTRODUCTION
Khraishi [2] studied the decomposition of lime and gypsum
using solar energy. Narendra et al [3] proposed use of solar
Plaster of Paris (POP) is chemically hemihydrates of calcium
energy in calcining gypsum, however, actual experiments were
sulfate (Ca SO41/2 H2O). It is produced by calcination / heating
simulated with electrical energy. Present paper reports results of
of gypsum, a di-hydrate of caocium sulfate (Ca SO42 H2O). It
experiments done to calcine gypsum for production of POP
has applications in construction industry, ceramic industry,
using a commercial parabolic solar concentrator of 4 sqm and a
sculptures, chalk pieces, medical (dental and surgical) etc. Most
proposed commercial method for production of POP using solar
of the units producing POPs are in small scale sector with
thermal energy.
capacity ranging 10-20 T/D, only a small number of units are in

large scale sector 100-200T/D.
2. PLASTER OF PARIS; REVIEW OF

The POP units use both thermal (wood, coal and diesel) and
MANUFACTURING PROCESSES
electrical energy for the production of POP(Plaster Of
Paris).The electricity consumption is only 5% of total energy
The gypsum is a mineral available all over the world, it is also
used thus the cost of producing POP depends on the cost of
produced as a byproduct of fertilizer industry. In India the largest
thermal energy, which is increasing every month. On an average
deposits are in Rajasthan followed by Tamilnadu, Jammu,
Gujrat ,UP, MP and West Bengal. The gypsum is used in the
a rotary kiln calciner uses about 300 kg of wood per ton [1].The
manufacture of hydraulic cements, ammonium sulfate fertilizer,
monthly average energy consumption is of the order of 15000
kWh per ton. Since energy used is in thermal form, it makes
sulphuric acid, and reclamation of acidic soil for agricultural
sense to use concentrating solar power technology to generate
purpose. Chemically gypsum is CaSO4. 2H2O , and has a
required
process
heat.
Maximum
numbers
of
POP
molecular weight of 177.17
manufacturing units are based in western Rajasthan. This region

has clear sun shine for about 300-320 days in a year. Solar
2.1 Plaster of Paris
resource map show that this region receives more than 6 kWh
The plaster of Paris, is a white binder produced from gypsum by
per day, which shows suitability of the site. The Indian CST
removing water of crystallization .This is done by heating the
industry has developed good expertise to tap the solar thermal
raw gypsum at temperatures of the order of 120-180. This
energy with 40 to 70% efficiency, using tracking type
removal of water is described by equation[1]
concentrators.


1
3
CaSO
H
H
If we assume efficiency of collection as 60% then each meter
4 . 2H2O + H CaSO4 . 2 2O + 2 2O (1)
square of concentrator will generate around 4 kWh in a day with

dual axis true parabolic concentrators. Even a fixed focus
H = 597,200kJ/ton=142,600kcal/T=165.9kWh/T
Scheffler dish can generate about 40 kwh in a day. Salman and

__________________________________________________________________________________________
IJRET | APR 2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org/
516

Dr. H.N. ACHARYA* et al ISSN: 2319 - 1163
Volume: 2 Issue: 4 1 - 4

2.1.1 Manufacturing Processes for Plaster of Paris

heated by delicate and intensive net work of steel pipes. A heat
conductive oil/steam is circulated in these coils; this circulating
Gypsum as such does not possess binding properties. Industrial
fluid releases the heat into the inside of furnace. There is a roots
importance of gypsum is attributed to production of
blower under the bottom of boiling furnace, and it blows hot air
hemi-hydrate, obtained by heating gypsum to temperature in the
into the furnace, until powder is in boiling status. Under a certain
range 120-180. Gypsum plaster is manufactured in different
temperature, the dried and dehydrated powder becomes lighter,
grades like medical, building and pottery grades. The production
and gets carried away with hot air automatically. The quality of
of different grades needs controlling calcining parameters. There
this kind of gypsum powder is stable, because the equipment
are many methods of manufacturing POP. Some commonly used
adopts dried electrostatic dust remover, so the dust-removing
techniques are discussed.
efficiency is above 95%. The fluidized bed technique there are

no moving parts.
2.2 Gypsum Calciners

2.2.1 Rotary Drum Calciner
2.3 Energy Used In Calcining Gypsum.
The rotary drum calciners are horizantal drums, made up of mild
Thermodynmic calculation predict [1] that 166 kWh is needed to
steel.These rotates along a horizontal shaft at slow speed of
calcine one ton gypsum. Different calciners have different
10-12 rpm.The capacity of drum is about one ton.The batch time
energy efficiency. The rotary calciner is most in efficient in
varies from 1 hour to 4 hours. The time depends on quality of
terms of heat utilization, besides it emits large amount of dust
desired product and end use of product .The drum is heated from
and smoke .The Pan type calciner suggested by CBRI uses
bottom by fire wood. On the average 300 kg of wood is used to
thermic fluid for heating, It appears that the most efficient
calcine one ton of gypsum[1].The dried gypsum powder is
technique is fluidized technique. In this both thermic fluid and
loaded manually.Dust emission occurs during loading un
steam can be used to heat the charge to required temperature.
loading and during rotation of drum, steam is ejected,and along
The systems using steam are comparatively less efficient in
with steam dust is also emitted This emission of dust causes loss
comparison to the thermic fluid. To minimize the capital cost of
of heat.In this system heat from flue gases is not recovered, and
solar concentrating system the most efficient method of
the process emits CO and particulate matter, mostly carbon.
calcination must be tied up with such systems.


2.2.2 Pan Type Calciners
3. EXPERIMENTAL FEASIBILITY OF USING
The Pan type calciners are stationary vertical cylindrical drums.
SOLAR ENERGY TO PRODUCE POP
Powdered gypsum is loaded manually. In earlier models they
To test the feasibility of using solar heat for calcination of
were heated by fire wood. In this process material is heated in
gypsum was carried out in December 2012. Experiments were
two stages: pre-heat chamber (where it is heated up to
conducted at hotel Gaj Kesri Bikaner using their parabolic solar
80-100 through flue gases of main chamber) and in the main
cooker, PRINCE-40, a model developed by PRINCE group.
chamber the charge is heated up to desired temperature of 180
This cooker can cook 5 kg rice in an hour. Gypsum was
for 3-4 hours .Batch capacity of these calciners is 600-800kg.
powdered and placed in a household pressure cooker with

blackened bottom. After about 5 minutes steam started coming
The CBRI has suggested [3] a double walled cylindrical
out from top of cooker, indicating starting of dehydration
calciner. The gypsum is heated by circulating hot thermic fluid
process. The cooker was frequently shaken to homogenize the
in outer shell. The powdered material is gently agitated by a
product. In around 30 minutes steam stopped coming out
pedal agitator.
signaling end of dehydration. The pressure cooker was removed,

and allowed to cool. The product was tested for setting time and
2.2.3 Kettle Calciner
whiteness. It took around 13 minutes for setting the plaster. The
These are the continuous type of calciners used in large scale
whiteness was the best for product obtained from selinite
unit producing POP at the rates 10-12 T/hour. The temperature
crystals. The experiment was repeated many times using gypsum
of calciner is about 160 - 180. The amount of heating oil
from open cast mines and crystalline form, giving almost similar
used is about 28-32 liters/ton. Loading and un- loading is done
results. The experiments conclusively proved that solar
automatically. Heat from flue gases is recovered.
concentrators can be a feasible technology for dehydrating

gypsum.

2.2.4 Fluidized Bed Technique of Producing POP
3.1 Solar Concentrator Technologies for Producing
2.2.4.1 Principle of working
POP
The main principle of drying system using fluidized technique is
to fluidize the powdered gypsum by a root blower blowing hot
Having proved the experimental feasibility of calcining gypsum,
air from bottom of the boiling furnace body. The chamber is
the next task is to determine what kind of CST can be used?
__________________________________________________________________________________________
IJRET | APR 2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org/
517

Dr. H.N. ACHARYA* et al ISSN: 2319 - 1163
Volume: 2 Issue: 4 1 - 4

Since the initial cost of CST is high it is necessary to use most
3.3 Dual Axis Tracked Parabolic Dish Concentrators.
efficient calcining process. This rules out direct heating system
employed in rotary kiln. Using thermodynamic calculation as a
These parabolic systems employ duel axis sum tracking. They
guide we attempt to select a CPT and determine its economic
are the choice for heating thermic fluid to the temperatures
viability.
needed in fluidized bed calciners. Mr. Prashant CEO of Vinayak

Gypsum, Mumbai, a firm specializing in manufacturing
As mentioned in section 2.1 around 170kWh are required [1] to
fluidized bed drier quotes the requirement of thermic oil heated
calcine one ton gypsum. This energy has to be supplied either by
to a temperature of 250. Such high temperature cannot be
steam generated or by thermic heated by a CST. The heating by
achieved by Scheffler dishes and it is necessary to use dual axis
steam is less efficient compared to system based on thermic
tracked parabolic dishes. In India at present two options are
fluid.
available as ARUN dishes in 100 and 169 sqm while Megawatt

dishes in 90 sqm [7]. In both the cases a system delivering 40000
There are a number of CSTs available commercially. Some of
kcal/hour systems would cost around 22 lakh. Considering the
these show excellent potential for adoption for this application.
subsidies of MNRE and accelerated benefits as in case of
Some of these are discussed herewith.
Scheffler dishes, the economics work out is similar with payback

period of around 2 years with financial incentives and up to 4
3.1.1 Scheffler reflector
years if financial incentives are not used.

These are flexible surface paraboloidal dishes and have fixed
CONCLUSION
focus. It has a polar axis tracking for day movement while
seasonal movement is required once in 3-4 days. The geometry
Gypsum has been calcined using commercial parabolic cooker
of the parabola changes as per seasonal adjustment. Most
having diameter of 4 sqm. An industrial plant for producing
common size of Scheffler concentrator at present is of 16 square
plaster of Paris has been proposed using commercially available
meters. Many steam systems have been installed by Gadhia
solar concentrators. The payback time has been estimated to be
solar[5] for cooking at Bhram kumara Ashram, Abu, Rajasthan,
of the order of 2 to 4 years.
Tirumala temple Andhra Pradesh, Shirdi Sai temple Maharashtra
Acknowledgements
etc. There are known 95 sites till 2011 and many more are added

every year. . The total energy produced by these dishes for eight
The authors would like to thank Mr. N.D.Vyas and Mr. Damodar
hour in a day is about 37840kcal i.e. @ 41.63 kWh [2]. In
Sharma, for help in conducting experiments. He would like to
western Rajasthan one can anticipate the output in the range of
thank Mr. Deepak Gadhia, Dr. Anurag Acharya, Mr. Siddharth
45-50 kWh because of higher insolation.
Maklik ,and Mr. Prashant, for helpful suggestions.


3.2 System Design Calculations
REFERENCES
For production of one ton of POP the energy required as per
1. Development of environmental standards and preparing
equation 1 is 170kWh. Assuming each dish produces 48 kWh
comprehensive industry document for plaster of paris
per day in Bikaner, the number of Scheffler dishes needed would
industries. Central pollution control board,ministry of
be 29 say 30 dishes. Govt. of India provides subsidies for
environment
and
forests,
available
at
adoption of these technologies in the range of 30 to 40%. In
www.cpcb.nic.inCOINDS/74/2007 accessed on 23-3-2013.
addition 80% accelerated depreciation is allowed which turns
2. S.S. Davange and Archana Thosar (2012): Performance
out to be 24% cash inflow in first year. The cost per dish is Rs.
analysis of solar heating steam cooking system,
3.00 lakh and with subsidy the cost will be in the range of Rs. 1.5
Proceedings of third biennial national conference NCNTE,
to 2 lakhs. Hence the project cost will be Rs. 45 to 60 lakhs
Feb 24-25 2012.
depending on the financial incentives availed. Cost of firewood
3. O.A
Salman
and
N
Khraishi
(1988),
Thermal
is at Rs. 4000/- per ton and at firewood consumption of 300 kg
decomposition of Lime stone and gypsum using solar
per ton of POP, the industry spends around Rs 1200/ton on
energy, Solar Energy, Volume 41 pg. 304-308
firewood. In a 8 ton/day factory fuel cost would be Rs 9600/-,
4. Narendra Kumar, S.N. Saini, Sameer: Partial replacement of
which amounts to Rs. 30 lakhs per year for 320 days operation.
conventional heat energy by solar energy in the production
Thus the cost of project can be recovered in less than two years.
of
Gypsum
plaster,
available
at
If we assume cost of installing energy efficient system to be 50
http://www.cbri.res.in/index.php?option=com_content&vie
lakhs, another 2 years would be needed to recover this cost.
w=article&id=83:gypsum-products&catid=37:s-a-t-know-
These dishes can also be used to generate hot air for use in
how&Itemid=86 accessed on 23-3-2013.
heating fluidized furnaces.
5. Gadhia Deepak (2009), "Parabolic Solar Concentrators for
Cooking and Food Processing", International Solar Food


Processing Conference 14-16 January 2009, Indore, India.

Pg. 1-5.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
IJRET | APR 2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org/
518

Dr. H.N. ACHARYA* et al ISSN: 2319 - 1163
Volume: 2 Issue: 4 1 - 4

6. Chandak Ajay, Somani Sunil and Chandak Anurag (2011),
'Development of PRINCE-40 Solar Concentrator as Do It
Yourself (DIY) Kit, Proceedings of 'ISES Solar World
Congress, Kassel, Germany 28 Aug. 2011 to 2nd Sept.
2011 PP 1-8.
7. Siddharth Mallik (2013): Presentation at Workshop on
Solar Concentrator Technologies at Dehradun organised by
MNRE under UNDP-GEF program, 23rd March 2013.

BIOGRAPHIES
H.N.Acharya,was
born
on
20th
January 1943 in Bikaner ,Rajasthan
.India.He obtained Ph.D degree from
IIT Kharagpur in 1972. He has:
published more than 150 papers
published
in
reputed
journals,
supervised 21 PhDs. 13 Indian patents
are granted to him.. He retired from
IIT Kharagpur, as a professor of
physics in 2005, now settled in Bikaner Rajasthan, India.

Dr. Ajay Chandak, born on 13th July
1963 did M.Tech. from IIT Bombay in
1986 and his Ph.D. in Solar
Concentrators from Indore. Has 35
patents, 10 journal publications and 18
presentations
at
international
conferences. Founder of a voluntary
group
PRINCE
(Promoters,
Researchers & Innovators in New &
Clean Energy) www.princeindia.org At present works as
freelance consultant in renewable energy. Ajay is certified
energy auditor and has experience of working for United Nations
and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Govt. of India as
consultant.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
IJRET | APR 2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org/
519

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