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Bioenergy Project Winter 2013

The Bioenergy Project is off to a great start this winter term! The fall served as a time of reflection and strategic planning after our back-to-back spring and summer trips. Now that we are on campus for 2013, we are charging ahead with renewed focus on improving our biomass briquetting program and developing biochar production for fuel and fertilizer uses. We feel that by focusing on the fuel source, rather than solely improved cookstoves, we may have a lasting economic, environmental, and health impacts on communities which we serve in a time frame which is achievable and without changing traditional cooking methods.

Tuesday, January 15th was our first Bioenergy Project meeting of the term. We had a terrific turnout with over 30 interested new members. James, Julie Ann, Ayushi, and Amelia gave an overview of the goals of the Bioenergy Project. Below are some of the work team divisions for hands-on projects throughout the term. We can’t wait for all the new members to jump in and get their hands dirty!

Pyrolyzer

Also known pyrolysis kilns, pyrolyzers are chemical reactors that thermally drive decomposition of a feedstock in the absence of oxygen. Pyrolyzers can be optimized for all types of products, but ours will be designed to produce charcoal (stabilized carbon), CO2, and water vapor. Members will build a pyrolyzer over the course of the term in the machine shop.

Compost Tumbler

Also known pyrolysis kilns, pyrolyzers are chemical reactors that thermally drive decomposition of a feedstock in the absence of oxygen. Pyrolyzers can be optimized for all types of products, but ours will be designed to produce charcoal (stabilized carbon), CO2, and water vapor. Members will build a compost tumbler then start decomposing biomass found in the the New England area.

Briquetting Molds and Techniques

Briquettes are traditionally a flat, donut shape. But would alternative shapes and sizes be easier to make or burn? This work team will experiment with different types of briquette molds. We will also explore alternative briquette presses, including a metal ratchet press.  

Education and Outreach  

In order to effectively transfer briquetting technology to local communities, DHE must develop an appropriate curriculum. This term we will be exploring how to convey such information through alternative mediums such as short radio messages and videos for farmers.

Biochar and Fertilizer Research

This research-based team will help us identify techniques for making, using, and selling biochar and fertilizer in East Africa and other regions of the world. We plan to talk to experts in the field on campus and abroad via Skype.

Join us on Tuesday evenings to find out how YOU can be involved in the Bioenergy Project!

About Julie Ann Haldeman

Julie Ann is currently serving as the President of DHE. In the spring of 2012, she traveled to Tanzania and worked on briquettes and improved cook stoves as part of the Bioenergy Project.

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One Response to Bioenergy Project Winter 2013

  1. Bob Cirino January 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Awesome! Biochar production has such an immediate and concrete benefit to the developing world. If you haven’t already, it’d be well worth your while to check out Sanga Moses in Uganda with EcoFuels Africa, Eric Sorenson in Haiti with Carbon Roots International, Jason Arambaru in Kenya with Re:Char, or Art Donelley in Costa Rica with SeaChar. These guys have been trailblazing biochar production in the developing world and have a lot of combined wisdom :) Best of luck and keep fighting the good fight!

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