Monthly Archives: October 2009


Amy Smith demonstrates how to make briquettes

Folks, We received from Amy Smith (MIT/D-Lab) in today’s post a link to a ten minute YouTube video that is essentially a how-to-make-your-own-briquettes video. [youtube=] What is astonishing is how simple the process can be. From converting the vegetable material into charcoal in a regular 55-gallon oil drum, to mixing it with a binding agent (cassava paste, in this case), and then using the most elegantly simple tools to churn out perfect little briquettes. It’s like witnessing the invention of the wheel! The entire process is very straightforward, although a few steps could use some clarification. For example, we were … Continue reading


MIT's Amy Smith: Visionary, inventor, genius.

Speaking at TED a few years ago, Amy Smith, the MIT professor and McArthur Genius Award recipient, made a compelling case for the widespread introduction of simple technologies that could solve major environmental, public health, and poverty problems in developing countries. Her bio on the TED page sums it up best: Invent cheap, low-tech devices that use local resources, so communities can reproduce her efforts and ultimately help themselves. Smith hatches her ideas at D-Lab, the MIT unit responsible for coming up with some of the coolest technological fixes for two thirds of the world’s population. If her ideas are … Continue reading


Can briquettes save Africa's mountain gorillas?

Virunga National Park in the DR Congo is home to the largest population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. In a recent visit to New York, the park’s Chief Warden, Emmanuel De Merode, told us that the greatest threat to the survival of the gorillas was the persistent destruction of habitat at the hands of the charcoal producers that ring the park. Every year thousands of acres of forest are cut to produce the wood charcoal the local population depends on for cooking and heating. In his most recent dispatch on the subject, Emmanuel writes: Replacing Charcoal with Briquettes – … Continue reading

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Got charcoal briquettes? Got fuel efficient stoves?

We need content to populate the site! We’re looking for all sorts of material to post: links, case studies, comments, photos, videos, powerpoints or other similar stuff. We can work with just about any format. English is preferred but we will accept submissions in any language. The goal is to make this a resource that everyone can use. And we can’t do it without you! And, thanks! J. Kim Chaix

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Biochar machine

A biochar convention? And now a machine that turns 1000lbs of vegetable scraps into 250lbs of biochar in 1 hour? Sounds like something worth keeping an eye on! Meet the beast: (Via Cnet) August 25, 2009 8:28 AM PDT Mobile ‘biochar’ machine to work the fields An ancient technique to fertilize soil by creating charcoal from plant waste is being revived to tackle some of today’s environmental problems. The latest company to pursue manmade charcoal, called biochar, is Biochar Systems, which has developed a biochar-making machine that can be pulled by a pickup truck. Two customers–a North Carolina farm and … Continue reading