Coal is one of the most common and dangerous fuels in the world today. Its production entails cutting down of trees, and its use produces carbon emissions into the atmosphere resulting in severe environmental, social and medical problems. Innovations have come up to limit the use of not only coal but also wood, which amounts to about 80% of energy consumption in Kenya. One such innovation is the production of briquettes.
Kings Bio Fuel Limited has been making briquettes since July 2014. Briquettes are an alternative source of energy that is vital to tackling climate change. The company, located in Kenol town, Murang’a County manufactures low cost, high energy environmental friendly briquettes from bio waste products sourced from farms and industries. These bio waste products include sawdust, coffee husks and rice husks.
Festus Ngugi, the founder and director noted that the idea to come up with the briquettes was to offer firewood and charcoal consumers a renewable energy alternative that did not impede on the ozone layer. He stated that firewood leads to massive deforestation adding that this has led to forest cover remaining at 3%.
As King Bio Fuels has proven, briquettes have multiple benefits to the environment and to the consumers’ expenses. One of the major benefits of briquettes is that they are a renewable source of fuel and energy. The raw materials are in plenty in that nature itself produces millions of tonnes of biodegradable waste which can be converted to briquettes. This can be agricultural or forestry waste.
Secondly, they are environmental friendly in that they are immensely cleaner than other fuel alternatives because they do not contain any Sulphur. Most industries lack proper structures for waste management, a process that can easily be capitalised for briquettes.
Another benefit is the high calorific value. Briquettes have a higher thermal calorific value (4000 Kcal/Kg) and lower ash content compared to firewood or loose biomass. This is due to the low moisture and high density.
Fourthly, they are more cost effective in the long run. They are cheaper to produce thus the market value is much lower than other fossil fuels. Briquettes burn slower with more heat output than other fuels therefore their usage lasts longer. A consumer spends less because they use little briquettes for a longer period of time.
Briquettes are cleaner to handle and always burn evenly. These benefits make briquettes suitable for domestic and industrial use. Kings Bio Fuel currently distributes to industries and schools in the country.
“I am looking into venturing with charcoal dealers to reduce the production and sale of charcoal in the country,” noted Festus, adding that he intends to carry out an operation in which charcoal traders will be sensitized on the challenges that charcoal burning causes to the environment. He hopes to change their mind set on cutting trees. Kings Bio Fuel is also working on offering subsidized prices for briquettes so that the traders can attract more customers for the clean energy.
By Michelle Mung’ata