| Boiling Point No. 01 - Special Edition 1989 |
Report of Meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, October 1988 (summarised from Report by lan McChesney). Hosted by The National Energy Administration, Sudan; sponsored By DANIDA And UNSO; supported by USAID, World Bank and SIDA.
- to identify factors that have impeded progress in briquetting of biomass in Africa.
- to develop methods and approaches and discuss techniques to overcome obstacles, and to make recommendations as to how they might be implemented.
- to evaluate the entire briquetting concept from resource availability and the technical and economic aspects of densification to dissemination of the technology and marketing of the briquettes.
- to produce an operational user-orientated set of proceedings, which can be used as a guide for briquetting of biomass in developing countries.
Several topics were studied in an examination of the conditions under which briquetting projects function effectively:
These objectives were determined in relation to the implementors, donors, planners, producers, and users and were divided into technical, social, economic and environmental. The results showed several areas of potential conflict.
Biomass - the apparent abundance needs to he evaluated in terms of availability (present and future), existing uses (agricultural and industrial), and seasonality and storage.
Capital - price levels in the energy sector do not normally provide attractive returns to capital.
Labour - although the labour content of briquettes is low there may be wider benefits for employment ea. maintenance and training
Energy is generally needed for power presses and transport and is mainly in the form of diesel fuel., Management skills are needed for briquetting, whether private or public and are always in short supply.
Environment needs may not harmonize with agricultural requirements, ea. agro-processing and soil fertilization, but may also be beneficial.
Health and safety hazards may arise from fumes and machinery accidents. On the positive side, waste briquetting may reduce deforestation.
Four major markets were identified - domestic, commercial, industrial and non fuel, each requiring its own marketing technique. Briquettes need to be designed and produced to suit each market to be exploited. It must be clear which market is targeted, ea. urban or rural, and also which existing fuel they are to replace or supplement. Briquettes are a marketed product and so can only be marketed in monetary economies, ie. urban areas. Appropriate using equipment, ie. stoves, must be in use or available. Each type of market must be carefully evaluated if briquetting is to be sustainable.
Producers must meet user requirements on all of the following:
- Case of ignition
- shape and size
- heat delivery and controllability
- apparent efficiency
Must normally be below domestic wood or charcoal price. Commercial or industrial users may be willing to pay more.
Normally best through existing fuel channels. Important to create a good image for briquettes through various media channels and demonstrations. Packaging must suit customer needs. Provision of free stoves with briquette purchases may ensure continuing satisfaction.
Price control of fuels such as kerosene and charcoal and control of cutting of firewood, taxation of fuels and briquetting equipment and subsidies are all possibilities particularly in non-freemarket economies.
Should be thoroughly planned in advance especially where changes in existing social habits may be involved. Producer and consumer participation should be included wherever possible and all relevant government departments should be consulted and asked to cooperate. A sure and steady flow of raw materials for a long period ahead must be established before any money is spent.
Donors must be made to understand that quick results cannot be expected from projects such as this involving large scale dissemination to small consumers. Projects should start small and build on success rather than attempting massive schemes requiring excessive management skills. Machinery suppliers' claims for production and quality and machinery life and maintenance and ease of operation should not be accepted without thorough and reasonably long trials under production conditions. Appropriate testing and quality control should be introduced at an early stage.
Ed Note: Since the article was received the official (draft) report (pp70) of the International Workshop "Biomass Briquetting in Developing Countries - A Project Planner's Guide" has been produced by DANIDA with the assistance of COWIconsult and John W Taton & Associates. "The report offers a user orientated, state of the art guide for biomass briquetting in developing countries. The information presented is based on the results of the 1988 Khartoum International Workshop on Biomass Fuel Briquetting, the briquetting literature and the authors' experience. For convenience the principal results and recommendations are organized by primary subject matter".