Nelly Bassily | May 18, 2009
In communities around the world, people are discovering that materials formerly thought of as waste can be transformed into fuel. In some cases, communities have been turning waste products into efficient fuels for years. In other communities, people are just starting to adapt briquette and other fuel technologies to locally available waste.An alternative fuel source: Make charcoal briquettes from banana peels (Package 76, Script 5, October 2005)
While banana briquettes are gaining interest in eastern Africa where bananas are abundant, fuel briquettes can be made from many other materials. Plant materials such as rice straw, sugarcane bagasse (the pulp that remains after the juice is extracted from sugar cane), grass clippings, and dried leaves can all be made into briquettes. Household waste such as paper and cartons can also be used.
You may wish to find out if people in your area make fuel out of waste materials, in the form of briquettes, pellets, or other forms. The following questions may help you investigate a news feature:
-How did local people discover this method of producing fuel?
-What materials do they use to make fuel?
-What is the process of transforming the waste into briquettes or pellets? What are some tips for making the fuel?
-Why do people choose to make this type of fuel (for example, to save time gathering wood, or to conserve the forest)?
-Do people make briquettes only for their own use? Are there individuals or groups who sell briquettes?
-Have the people who use these alternative fuels stopped harvesting firewood from the forest? Do they harvest less from the forest?
-To learn more about how women in Lungujja, Uganda make banana briquettes, see this Farm Radio International script:
-To watch a video of Joel Chaney making banana briquettes, click here: http://www.test-tube.org.uk/videos/pages_joel_bananas.htm. (Note: Since Mr. Chaney is making briquettes at a university laboratory in England, he does not have access to banana stems. Therefore, he substitutes sawdust for banana stems.)
For more examples of briquette production from a variety of waste materials, visit the websites for the following organizations:
-Changemakers (an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public): http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/22779#comment-17403
-The Foundation for Sustainable Technologies in Nepal: http://www.fost-nepal.org/