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close this bookBoiling Point No. 19 - August 1989 (ITDG - ITDG, 1989, 36 p.)
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Coal Briquette Technology From China

Summary of proposal to the Botswana Energy Workshop, March 89, by Prof Yu-shi Mao, Beijing China

China has huge coal reserves and coal contributes 70% of the total primary energy supply. Most African countries are facing an energy shortage. Forests used as a kind of fuel are being consumed at an unprecedented rate and threatening the ecological balance. To use coal becomes an urgent task to save the forests.

China is a developing country and bears all the same characteristics as African countries. Chinese coal technology developed under these circumstances can be appropriate for African countries. These technologies are not sophisticated but still efficient.

Botswana, Mozambique, Zaire, Madagascar, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia all have rich coal reserves.

Coal Briquettes to Replace Fuelwood

In most of the African countries, firewood has been the major traditional fuel for domestic use. Annual wood consumption per capita in Tanzania, for example, amounts 1.5 cubic metres, causing an overfelling of trees. As a result, some African countries are suffering soil erosion, others are facing their land losing fertility and still others have been apparently decreasing their agricultural output. Along with the ever accelerating consumption of forest, the price of fuelwoud has been soaring higher and higher. The extraordinary population growth rate exacerbates the situation. In order to reverse such an intolerable tendency, a substituting fuel has to be found. Coal perhaps is the most practical one in many coal rich countries and their neighbouring areas.

Households in China's urban area have used crude coal for domestic use, but since mid-seventies we gradually shifted to honeycomb briquette which gives much higher heat efficiency, reducing consumption and cutting pollution. In Chinese rural areas, households traditionally had used straw and agricultural wastes as domestic fuel but also gradually changed to briquette since mid-seventies. So, the straws and stalks can be returned to field to preserve its fertility. Now more than seventy percent of households in Beijing use honeycomb briquette. China can supply whole production lines making briquettes at various capacities.

Ed Note - The proposal raises the question of the desirability of promoting use of coal in view of the CO' and other chemical problems involved with charcoal.