Biomass wastes for charcoal in Kenya
In Kenya a study in 2004 looked into using biomass waste to make charcoal briquettes. The
study encompassed criteria such as availability, conversion potential, fuel quality and
In order create a short-list of a manageable set of materials with real potential,
The study considered the total quantity available across the country as the most important
parameter for fuel production. It was also important to consider any annual or seasonal
variations in supply and any pre-existing or competing uses. Finally, the lower the ash content
of the biomass waste, the better the quality of fuel production.
Based on this analysis, the following biomass wastes showed potential commercial viability
based on their availability within Kenya:
Bagasse (a by-product of sugar processing)
Macadamia nut shell
The study showed that all of these apart from coconut husk have high potential to form the
basis of a viable briquetting business the country.
Source: The Use of Biomass Wastes to Fabricate Charcoal Substitutes in Kenya- Feasibility
Study, Chardust Ltd. and Spectrum Technical Services, 2004.
Experience in Gambia and elsewhere has shown that residue and charcoal briquettes may not burn
well in existing stoves. See Boiling Point special Edition on Briquettes 1989/90.
Issues of production and use
Charcoal is important in terms of energy and economies within most African countries. The
production of charcoal employs a considerable number of people in rural areas. However, charcoal
users as the group are most strongly exposed to carbon monoxide (CO), followed by wood users.
Charcoal use also results in high volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contributing to global
Increasing end-use efficiency requires the promotion of improved stoves. Traditional stoves are
normally made by the informal sector; models with higher heat transfer efficiencies should be
developed in collaboration with end-users and stove producers, and manufactured by the private
Inefficiencies inherent to the production and use of charcoal, rapid urbanization, and the preference
of urban dwellers for charcoal place a heavy strain on local wood resources.
This led to Practical Action investigating the potential for fuel substitution on a number of locations
including Kassala, Kenya where households were helped to switch from wood and charcoal use to
LPG and Kerosene. Financial loans helped people cover the costs of converting as cost was seen as
the dominant constraint. Introducing LPG or Kerosene reduces the particle pollutants, which result
in improved long-term health benefits when compared with traditional fuel wood or charcoal use for