Wheat is one of the main crops worldwide with a production of 733 million of tons by 2015. By 2013, the wheat grain production in Mexico was 3,357,307 t. Wheat straw is generated as a biomass waste once the wheat is harvested. However, the agricultural biomass waste has acquired international relevance as a source of bioenergy. The utilization of bioenergy has significant environmental benefits, and also economic benefits because the biomass waste is valorized as biofuel. The use of wheat straw as raw material for any productive process presents diverse factors that must be considered. Among those factors are the low density of biomass, handling and high transportation cost, an attractive heating value, and the physicochemical characterization. Therefore, the aim of this work was to apply the SWOT analysis to wheat straw utilization as a biofuel in Mexico. The main findings highlighted an estimation of 4,612,950.23 t of wheat straw generated. The experimental results of proximate analysis were 64.42% volatile matter, 19.49% fixed carbon and 16.09% ash. The higher heating was 14.86 MJ/kg. An energy potential of 69 PJ per agricultural cycle was calculated, equivalent to 19% of the biomass energy share reported in Mexico’s National Energy Balance, by 2014.
Part of the book: Frontiers in Bioenergy and Biofuels
The state of Baja California, Mexico, is the second national wheat producer. Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, is the primary wheat producer, and it represents the most significant crop in the valley, with 90,609 ha of a cultivated surface by 2015; it leads to a wheat production of 585,334 t and a generation of 661,446 t of wheat straw as agricultural residue. The 15% of this waste has various uses. The 85% of wheat straw is open burnt in situ to prepare the farmland for the next agricultural cycle. Through the development of an emissions and energy model on iThink®, the emissions of 6,185 t of PM, 35,983 t of CO, and 1,125 t of CH4 considering a headfire burning or 3,373 t of PM, 30,360 t of CO, and 731 t of CH4 by backfire burning were estimated. Also, the wheat straw wasted energy was estimated at 8.15 PJ by 2015, with a lower heating value of 14.50 MJ/kg determined experimentally. The results highlight that for each hectare of harvested wheat, 6.205 t of wheat straw are generated and burnt. It represents the emission of pollutants and 89,972.50 MJ of wasted energy.
Part of the book: Global Wheat Production