Household Charcoal Production is a more sustainable way of making Charcoal

Generating Green Charcoal Sustainably

Traditional charcoal production is small scale and actually one of our oldest human skills.

With 520 thousand tonnes of charcoal produced every year, Charcoal is an important source of fuel. Most of this is made from wood. If we were to consider a 20% wood to charcoal conversion ratio, it means that we are burning five times more wood (2600 thousand tonnes)  every year.  

We are losing 10% of our forest cover each year – to cooking fuel, commercial farming and logging.

The statistics present a “fire and climate” challenge – with the needle pointing accusingly towards how brutal we have been in being inefficient about how we have been producing and are producing charcoal.

The FAO says defines “efficient” charcoal production as yielding 1 tonne of charcoal from 3.5 tonnes of wood. Current traditional technologies are at yielding one tonne from 4.5 tonnes of wood.  There is a big gap to bridge –

And then there is traditional charcoal production and industrial charcoal production - Each with its pros and cons. Mostly cons – because the energy inefficiencies and climate costs say so.

What about household production? Why not? Its simple. Its effective if the right combustor is given. Turns “mass production” into “production by masses”. Puts a woman entrepreneurper kitchen. Solves a lot of climate, economy and energy challenges with one strike of the matchbox in the right combustor.

Well – the ‘right’ type of production of charcoal is a choice that depends on the balance between social, economic and climate perspectives.

And with traditional and industrial charcoal making already having been given their chance to strike the balance – and have not found it, it may be time to explore the “household charcoal making” production method – as a way to strike the right climate,economic and social balance.

The Calorific value of the charcoal from the cookstove is on par with that of mineral coal. The demand for coal in the next 5 years is set to grow to over 9 bn tonnes; the global coal use is set to double by 2040; the most rapid growth in coal consumption is to be determined in Asia, with the consumption in India predicted to double over the next 15 years and triple by 2040.

In the wake of the above energy trajectory, it will make sense to explore an economic model that supports energy creation, by households at the grassroots, around an economic model that is scalable, replicable, distributes economic wealth better while being sustainable from a “people-profit-planet” perspective. 

The charcoal production techniques that the “earn while you cook” supports are-
  • Biochar Making Clean Cookstoves – where the charcoal is the residue after the wood has been used for its thermal power.           
  • Continuous Char Maker to turn light leafy biomass into powder charcoal.  
  • Batch processing Char Maker which sets a higher standard of yield conversation than what is recommended by the FAO.