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Cassava + Organic Waste = Charcoal Briquettes

In January 2008, I wrote about charcoal briquettes as an alternative cooking fuel and as a way to solve our mountain of organic debris in the aftermath of typhoons. Now, we are delighted that the provincial government is taking the initiative to introduce the technology to barangay levels.

Last week was favorable for those who believe that the solid waste problem could be addressed through low-cost programs.

Congressman Joseph Santiago and Governor Joseph Cua had a chance to see first-hand how waste can be transformed to fuel using cheaply manufactured equipment. The province’s two leaders were with visitors from the Department of Agriculture, who were to speak on the cassava industry in Panganiban town the next day, when they went to the sprawling farm being managed by DPWH assistant district engineer Gil Balmadrid in Palta Small, Virac.

There, they saw how a set of charcoal briquetting equipment costing P85,000 in Manila had been re-engineered into one costing just P5,000 per set, so cheap every barangay intent on producing fuel from waste could avail of it.

As a result of the visit, Gov. Cua expressed the provincial government’s intention to buy 10 sets of charcoal briquetting gear (drum carbonizer, pulverizer, and briquetter) to be distributed to several recipients.

Rep. Santiago also called up Globe Telecoms to follow up on the latter’s scheme in which the firm gives each cellsite host barangay a set of charcoal briquetting equipment that it could use in selling fuel briquettes to residents. There are a number of Globe cellsites around the province.

Engr. Balmadrid has already boxes of charcoal briquettes that could be sold for P15 per kilo for use in household cooking as well as in bakeries and blacksmith operation. Barangays can likewise sell carbonized waste to him for P1.50 to 2 per kilo as long as the procedures are followed to the letter. Here’s one way of reducing waste that would not involve the appropriation of gargantuan amounts of public funds."

Source: Inside Page, Catanduanes Tribune - 22 July 2009

While the technology is not new, there is still room for innovation and the use of other waste materials abundant in the locality. This would possibly help bring down the production cost to a minimum level. However, these materials requires specialized compacting machines to convert it to briquettes.

As for end-users, a technology institute has designed a cooking stove using charcoal briquettes, this would be of good use for big families and commercial establishments.

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