Doing well and having fun in Kigoma!

Updates since the last blog post…

As it turned out, finding different sizes of barrels in Kigoma was a bit of challenge. The only available barrels were standard full sized barrels. This meant that the Kigoma TLUD would have to take on somewhat of a different design compared to our Arusha TLUD. Instead of using a narrow barrel as a chimney, a sheet of metal would have to be rolled into a chimney.

Along with Max (a JGI intern) as my translator, a JGI driver and his Toyota pickup truck, I went to see a guy working at a metal shop to have the TLUD kiln built (while Dvij was recovering from his bad stomach at the lodge). He said the kiln would take a day or two to finish. Strangely enough, this guy only had his hand tools to make the kiln with. No electric power tools at all! Despite this, after the two days, the kiln was finished. It was the most eloquently built kiln that I’ve seen to date in Tanzania. It has a one meter long chimney, longer than that of our Arusha kiln.

Finding the appropriate feedstock to carbonize in the kiln was an easier endeavor. There is a wood processing district about ten minute drive away from the town center where we managed to buy eight sacks full of saw dust for 1600 tsh each and two sacks of rice husks for even less than that.

Dvij and I found that running our new larger kiln was different to the smaller kilns in Arusha. The wood gas flame was much more vigorous and appeared to be ‘floating’ on top of the feedstock. Furthermore, each runs of the kiln was more consistent in terms of the char yield. We also found out that layering the bottom of the kiln with dry leaves and grass helped the bottom most layer of feedstock to char completely (which was an issue that we faced in Arusha).

Later in that week, we had a chance to visit two villages called Kalinzi and Simbo. Kalinzi was about 45 minutes away by car and Simbo was another 30 minutes by car from Kalinzi. Kalinzi is the region’s prominent producer of coffee while Simbo produces palm oil. We learnt that harvest of coffee occurs between August and October. We arrived just before the harvest season but there still were, literally, a mountain of coffee husks left from the previous year. The husks were free to take and local already used the husks to cook their food with. We realized here that there were big opportunities to run a sustainable briquetting operation. (We also found a rusty carcass of a rocket stove that we suspect is an artifact from previous DHE travel groups!)

In Simbo, we found a few small piles of palm fruit shells and fibers. Apparently, all the shells and fibers are burnt because there is no other use for them. The locals told us that burning these shells and fibers was a dirty process as palm oil does not burn cleanly.

In the following weeks, as the rest of our team members arrived from Arusha, we started doing demonstrations of our kiln and the briquetting process for a number of different communities.

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We visited a village called Ilagala which is an hour away by car. Our original plan was to do a demonstration kiln run for a small group of people. However, as we started setting up the kiln, our demonstration run quickly became the subject of interest for the entire village. There were about 80 village elders, teens, and children who joined us in running the kiln and briquetting. Steffi and Max translated for us and handled the bombardment of questions from the villagers exceptionally well. The villagers were very curious about how the kiln worked, what kinds of feedstock could be used, and the performance of the briquettes. There were a few people who explicitly expressed their interests in building the kiln and we left them a copy of our kiln building manual.

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We also held a demonstration session for the youths of Kividea (Kigoma Youth Development Association). These youths were high school aged young adults who were interested in production of alternative fuels. As we were showing the youths how to pack the kiln with feedstock, we realized that we did not bring enough of the coarse sawdust but had brought too much dense coffee husks. Initially, we were worried that the kiln might not run as well as because the denser layers would pose a significantly increase fluid resistance for the updraft of air through the feedstock. However, the kiln produced a typical yield of char (and we did not embarrass ourselves in front of all the youths). The youths were amazed by the fact that pressing the mixture of flour porridge and char produced briquettes and were eager to use the molds that we brought to pump out briquettes. The representative from Kividea who helped us to organize the occasion was also very impressed and enthusiastic about the entire process. He promised (yes, promised) us that he would build a kiln in a month or two when the organization had enough money and made us to promise him that we would email him our kiln building guide book.

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Bye Arusha. Hello Kigoma!

After a sudden flight cancellation on Sunday, Dvij and I (Jun) made our two day long trip to Kigoma from Arusha via Dar es Salaam on Monday. We arrived on Tuesday morning in good shape and excited (despite that Dvij had lost his luggage for his second time in Tanzania). We are staying in Royal Prince Lodge which we have found to be somewhat of a lonely place compared to the EMORG volunteer house due to the single rooms. Food from the lodge restaurant is delicious and is worth waiting through the forty minute preparation time.

On Wednesday morning (after Dvij finally got his luggage back from Air Tanzania), we made our way to JGI in order to meet Mary, Shadrak, and Mtiti. JGI is about forty minutes away from the Lodge by foot and about ten minutes away by taxi. Our meeting started off with our presentation of 14X travel team’s work so far in Arusha and of our four partner organizations. The people from JGI were genuinely interested to know more about TLUD kilns and charcoal briquetting. We presented them with cost analysis of building (around 44,000 TSH) and running a TLUD kiln made from barrels. Mary particularly seemed to be impressed by the low cost of building a kiln, and that about one man-hour was enough to produce one kilogram of briquettes. However, she did note that some people may not be willing to use cassava flour as a binder because its price has recently increased.

Our meeting then progressed on to discussing what the 14X team could do here in Kigoma. We learnt from Mary that lump charcoal is made in villages and then transported to urban centers in Kigoma for sales and consumption while women in these villages use firewood as fuel. Although cooking is usually done outside or inside a separate building, the use of firewood is still poses a health threat to both the women and their children. As we see it, there is a need discourage the use of lump charcoal in urban centers and encourage women in villages to use alternatives to firewood (possibly charcoal briquettes). Furthermore, according to the people of JGI, there are a variety of feedstock easily available in Kigoma. These include coffee husks and banana leaves in high-land regions, palm tree fruit fibers (which are used for kindling fire as they burn easily), and sawdust. Corn husks, however, are difficult to find because they are fed to animals.

During our meeting, a number of different organizations/individuals were mentioned who we could work with. Students in Root & Shoots program, Kigoma Youth Development Association, various women’s groups, and forest monitors are potential partner groups based in Kigoma but more specific details will come later with more meetings.

On the way back from JGI to Royal Prince Lodge, Dvij and I looked around the town for barrels. However, we only managed to find full sized barrels which are much bigger than the barrel we have been using for our demonstration kilns back in Arusha. We have visited three different shops but smaller barrels were nowhere to be found. There is a possibility that we may have to make a full sized kiln and roll up a sheet metal to make a chimney instead of using narrower barrels.

Our tentative plan for this week is to explore the town and find appropriate building materials and sources of feedstock so that we can start assembling a demonstration kiln and run it. Tomorrow, JGI will be providing us with a driver who can take us around the town. Hopefully, we will find what we are looking for.

On the other hand, the other half of our group staying behind in Arusha has an exciting week ahead of them. They will be conducting input/output analysis of a TLUD kiln as well as testing our briquettes against lump charcoal that was purchased in a town market a few days ago by heating up vessels of water to gauge the thermal outputs. The group will be also consult Vision For Youth to help them build and run their own TLUD kilns.

 

P.S. No photos this week. The internet connection is very slow and unstable!!!