For sustainable development, we can make charcoal “green”!
The General Systems Theory influences us that elements on earth from the simplest to the most complex one are interconnected. We are all part of a system-the environment. Barry Commoner, a scientist, politician and a publisher introduced the four laws of ecology; these say that everything is connected with everything else, everything must go somewhere, nature knows best there no such thing as a free lunch. These would only mean that our waste either biodegradable, non-biodegradable and or recyclable must go somewhere, sadly most of the time it goes back to our own backyards as we neglect the aspect of waste management and environmental protection.
Embracing these ideas we became aware of the emerging societal problems such as the improper waste management and sound recycling practices.
Moreover, environmental demise, poor waste management and lack of livelihood are, for years, been tormenting the Ilonggos across the region and are even setting threats to some’s “barely-there” chance of survival; but the point of being alarmed with these problems is likewise the point of being assertive in finding solutions. For so long, these problems have been arising, numerous attempts to solve them will continue to be developed where some are effective, some are not.
One of the most remarkably effective initiatives to address waste management in Western Visayas is now being developed; indeed one of today’s newest innovations– charcoal briquettes.
Briquettes also called as “green charcoal”.
Briquettes is a fuel that are composed of waste materials tightly compressed into solidified pieces and are used as alternative to firewood, charcoal or any other fuel. It may come in different shapes and sizes, compact and easy to transport. It is now helping waste reduction.
Charcoal is a fuel comes from a wood processed for carbonization, however, of course we know the negative impact of charcoal because when people keep on using charcoal we are also allowing or promoting the practice of cutting down trees to convert as charcoals. But with briquettes or the “green charcoal” technology , introduces an alternative options to the people who have been dependent in using charcoal wood or LPG which are known to be great factors for environmental pollutions.
In Iloilo City, the College of Agriculture, Resources and Environmental Sciences of the Central Philippine University with its offered courses in agriculture have linked resources to create a new technology that introduce the biomass waste resource utilization that converts waste product into briquettes.
Central Philippine University- College of Agriculture (CPUCA) is the technology developer and does not sell the products; the college inventors and engineers want to introduce this to the community in Calajunan, Mandurraio, Iloilo City and shall train them how to market it aside from empowering them to use this product for household consumption. It allows the people to learn and embrace this new inventions as well as to gain income from this product. But the big challenge for them is on how to established market because not all the people are familiar with briquetting or the use of briquettes as alternative to fire woods. The blogger’s opportunity of using the social media is essentially integrated in the vision to promote new invented product to let the people aware of environmental management.
Aside from the scientific side of inventing this product, the CPUCA is also embracing the community empowerment side through its stakeholders, the Uswag Calajunan Livelihood Association (UCLA )members. They introduced this product to them and tested the pillow shape briquette, but they found out that this kind of briquette produces smoke hence with their new technology they made the cylindrical shape briqutte designed with a hole because according to several studies if you want to remove the presence of smoke and enhance the quality of your briquettes it should have a hole. Other shapes of briquettes are egg-shape, tubular-shape, cylindrical-shape without a hole and stick shape.
The process of making this product is called theBRIQUETTING, there are many ways in making briquettes but CPUCA promotes technologies that are simple and easy to operate. It converts the solid biomass and urban wastes into carbon and make it available into a fuel form. It compresses the materials into solid fuel product in any shape. These materials which were of low density prior to being converted into briquettes is compressed to form a product of higher bulk density, lower moisture content and uniform size and shape making these materials easier to package and store, cheaper to transport, more convenient to use, and their combustible characteristics are better than those of the original waste material (Romallosa, et al, 2011).
They use scratched paper from the offices inside the university, sawdust and carbonized rice husk from farm lands.
Briquettes come in three types:
- Paper type with 100% paper
- Paper + Sawdust type
- Paper + CRH + Sawdust type
Paper type with 100% paper and paper + sawdust haveequal value of produced heat but paper + CRH +sawdusttype is quite low in produced heat because CRH is already a used fuel.
The mass production of Paper+ CRH + sawdust type of green charcoal is still pending because it will be sent to University of Germany for the ultimate chemical analysis and in Japan for the University of Tokyo’s emission test to gather data and to determine the air quality due to pollutants which may occur.
The “green charcoal” costs Php10.00 – Php15.00 pesos per kilo for about 60 pcs. Can be used in any ordinary charcoal stove. It was emphasized by the developer that it has no mixed materials and or substance aside from the paper, sawdust and carbonized rice husk (CRH).
Several steps in making the briquettes are:
- Soak shredded waste papers in a container filled with water overnight to soften the papers for easier pulping.
- Remove excess water from the pulped papers using a net bag.
- After filtering the paper put it in a big container and mix it thoroughly until uniform mixture is attained.
- Then, put the mixed materials into the molders while squeezing the excess water.
- Form the materials into round shape for better compression.
- Compaction is done by closing and pressing down the movable top onto the bottom half of the molder.
- After molding the briquettes, place it under intense sunlight for at least two days to remove excess moisture.
- Lastly, when briquettes are have dried already, trim the excess sides of it for better physical quality and store it in dry cool place to maintain low moisture content.
Before, making the briquettes by hand molding, they are using a jack with a hole so that briquettes will not be smoky.
Its purpose is to make people realize and practice not be dependent on wood charcoal, gas stove and other expensive fire burning materials and help promote clean environment through this briquette technology.
The blogger as a development communication practitioner firmly believes that we have lot of resources; likewise, waste materials which are major components in making the green charcoal, just anywhere and is so potential minimizing the dependency on wood charcoal and LPG.
Using briquettes instead of the usual wood charcoal leads to numerous benefits. It is locally made fuel for cooking or heating that can offer alternative to the use of firewood and charcoal. It is cheaper compare to charcoal and it can put less pressure on natural resources. It can help the people in the community to earn money, lessen the rubbish in the community and turns it into a source of energy.
Indeed, this such initiative is considered sustainable, thus, the community people shall adapt this new innovation for daily living. It is always true that the law of ecology tells as that human beings are part of the system, that we, exchange materials, energy and information to other living organism in our system.
Materials may it be biodegrable or something that is recyclable is part of us, environment provides resources and materials which human being can utilize and transform after several use. Energy is what we need, through the interactions of living organism and nature’s provided materials, we continue to live. Energy is needed for survival. Information counters entropy which is the innate tendency of a society to break down; information holds the society together, through information we educate people of the existing potential materials that we have and it can be transformed into an energy which is crucial for human survival.
The “green charcoal” is one innovation from the existing materials that we have, now converted to produced energy essential for human’s everyday living. Charcoal doesn’t have to be black, it is also “green”, thus it is sustainable.