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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Communities trained on green charcoal production technology

By Samwel Nyaga

The Tree Is Life Trust (TILT) on January 20, 2014 trained members of Sipili Community Forest Association (CFA) at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre on green charcoal production technology as a way of changing forest adjacent communities’ attitude on wood use for charcoal production.
Speaking during the training, Thomas Gichuru, Director TILT informed CFA members that they aim to empower community members to mitigate and adapt to climate change and also to improve livelihoods around forests in Laikipia County.
Thomas showing Sipili CFA members the 3 parts of the charcoal kiln

He said that the charcoal kiln has three (3) parts. It consists of a 200 litres drum which acts as the combustion chamber, an adaptor made up of half a drum which has slits at the bottom and a chimney.

Green charcoal production process
Fill the kiln with farm biomass-maize cobs and maize stalk in layers of four (4) inches until it is full. Put the maize stalk at the base of the drum. They should be reduced to the desired size without pressing them. Maize cobs should then be added. The two should then be alternated until the drum is full. The top of the drum should be covered with maize stalk.
The same process should be followed when using other farm materials like tea leaves. Fire should then be lit at the top. After it has spread evenly at the top, the adaptor should then be placed on top of the drum followed by the chimney.
The process will then take at least forty (40) minutes. After this period all the biomass will have been carbonated into charcoal. When the carbonization process is over there will be ash at the base of the drum.
The drum being filled up with maize cobs and stalk
The adaptor should then be removed and the drum covered with a lid for the charcoal to cool down for about fifteen (15) minutes. The charcoal can also be cooled down using water by splashing it from the top.
“A good charcoal kiln produces a white smoke. It is also important to ensure that you use dry materials and that you also keep away materials that can catch fire,” said Thomas.
 The maize combs charcoal can be used in a jiko or added value by making charcoal briquettes.
Charcoal briquette making process
Crash the charcoal and mix with a binding agent like: Clay soil, cow dung, soaked waste paper or the gum Arabic.
Use a binding agent to ensure that the briquettes are intact and cannot crash. After mixing thoroughly, pick the mixture and mold using the hands or press using a pressing machine.
The biomass after being carbonated into charcoal
When drying, the molded briquettes should be placed on a drying rack under a shade for a day to avoid wet surface. Once the briquettes are dry they are easy to use and can be packed in bags of 2-50 kgs for sale.
The indiscriminate felling of trees for charcoal has left huge sections of forests in Laikipia bare leading to deforestation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and reduced land productivity.

The green charcoal production technology empowers community members to mitigate and adapt to climate change and also improves livelihoods of communities living around forests in Laikipia County.
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