Tapping the untapped


Putting the large amounts of biological waste in Africa to good use can help turn the tide that threatens to wipe out the continent’s forests

Tapping the untapped


Company CEO Mogens Slot Knudsen in a pineapple field


Africa is a new growth market for briquetting companies, as there is a demand for sustainable energy resources as an alternative to existing energy resources. The existing resources are mainly firewood and charcoal, often from nonsustainable forests. The current equipment manufacturers supplying the market provide mostly products of low quality with a lack of documentation and after sales service, often leaving the customers to their own devices. The result is that the machinery breaks down within a short time and, as it is often not repaired, factories stop working.

High quality briquetting equipment can densify different types of biomass to create high quality briquettes that reduce the volume to be handled drastically. The briquettes become a uniform product with a low moisture content, which leads to reduced transport expenses. Burning briquettes in efficient stoves will not only be more efficient but also reduce overall fuel consumption. No additives are usually neededin briquette production. Using briquettes made from wood residues or agricultural wastes also reduces consumption of firewood and wood from forests, thus having a positive effect on deforestation.

The African market

In Africa, there are two main market segments for briquetting machinery manufacturers. The first is larger companies wishing to switch from firewood or fossil fuels to renewable energy. In order to become sustainable, many of these companies can benefit from biomass. Some good examples of how to do it are using sugarcane bagasse to make briquettes to replace firewood, or using pineapple waste.

The second segment is domestic cooking, namely replacing firewood and locally produced charcoal with briquettes from wood residues or agricultural wastes. For poor people in the area, the largest part of daily food preparation takes places with an open fire with firewood as the most common type of fuel. A lion’s share of this wood used comes from local forests and results in deforestation. The alternative is to use briquettes made from wood residues or agricultural wastes.

  • To see the briquetting press used for this project, click the button below to the left
  • To read more about the Global Supply Solutions project, click the button below to the right

To this end, Danish briquetting company C.F. Nielsen has delivered a plant to Ghana with the support from the Nordic Environment Finance Corp. (NEFCO). The plant has a capacity of approx. 600-700kg per hour, which seems to be far too high for this concept. Therefore, a more reasonably sized plant is in development, producing around 150-200kg of briquettes per hour. This concept is named the “Village Concept” and C.F.
Nielsen is in co-operation with Care Denmark to introduce it in Uganda, based on support from the Danish Government’s Danida programme.

The project aims to develop a “village” model for briquetting wastes at a capacity between 150-200kg per hour.Local farmers or smaller companies with residues can either sell their residues to the village factory or they can exchange residues for finished briquettes. C.F. Nielsen has the technical capability to develop a solution for this new concept. It intends to develop the machine in Denmark, but part of the production will be outsourced to Eastern Europe in order to secure a reasonable price for the equipment. The supplementary equipment for downsizing and drying will be sourced from the Far East, but the equipment will be developed, manufactured, and documented under C.F. Nielsen’s supervision to ensure it meets the necessary standards.

  • To read more about the C.F. Nielsen "Village Concept", please click on the button below

Briquetting pineapple waste in Kenya

C.F. Nielsen has for a couple of years been working with the company Global Supply Solutions in Kenya. The owner of the company, Allan Marega, has obtained the rights to use pineapple waste from the Del Monte pineapple plantations in Thika, Kenya. The Del Monte plantations are a large multinational farming enterprise with vast areas of pineapple under cultivation. They harvest pineapple during the entire year and the waste
yield is approximately 77 tonnes per hectare. In total, the plantations produce more than 800,000 tonnes of pineapple waste per year.
Currently, this waste is a health hazard hosting rodents and fungi and has to be burned, as it is not used for anything.

In Kenya, the main source of fuel for industries and households is wood, either in the form of firewood or charcoal. The amount of wood used is very high, and the country’s tea factories alone use approximately
500,000 tonnes per year. The continuous use of firewood results, as mentioned earlier, in deforestation. Something will urgently need to be done about this, as there is only about 7% forest cover remaining in Kenya
against the UN recommended standard of 10%. A change in weather patterns and increases in temperature can already be clearly observed.

The use of local resources like biomass to help mitigate the effects of climate change is a realistic solution for African countries as agriculture is widespread and continuously growing. Using briquettes from agricultural waste like pineapple can contribute to reducing deforestation.

  • Watch Company CEO, Allan Marega, explain about briquetting of pineapple waste and the C.F. Nielsen machines

The main market for Global Supply Solutions will be the mentioned tea factories, but also other industriesand private households.
The project starts with the collection of raw material from the field. The raw material will dry in the sun, after which it will be baled and transported to the factory where it will be stored until briquetted. Some of the raw material will contain moisture and will have to be dried during the briquetting process. The pineapple waste material is shredded, stones are removed, and the material is milled down in size. Sand will be removed before briquetting.

After briquetting, the end product will be stored and packed in different forms and then delivered to the clients. The installed capacity of the new factory will be 6 tonnes of briquettes per hour, which, when fully operational, can reach a capacity of up to 40,000 tonnes per year. Once implemented, Global Supply Systems plans to expand the factory and may also introduce the concept to other countries.

The Village Concept in Uganda

The partnership between C.F. Nielsen and Care Danmark aims to increase the production and use of renewable fuel briquettes made from freely available agricultural waste in Uganda. By replacing the current unsustainable wood fuel and charcoal, the project can not only reduce deforestation, but also generate local income and employment.

The partners will collaborate on testing adapted technology in a real-life setting and defining sustainable business models based on studies of marketing and financing options. Local capacity will be built for managing briquette production and using improved stoves and briquettes. The project is expected to lead to expansion of market opportunities for local entrepreneurs.

Ugandan households rely on collected firewood in rural areas and charcoal in urban areas. Of Uganda’s total energy consumption, 66% is covered by wood, and 92% of Ugandan households have either a three-stone fireplace with wood or a charcoal stove as their primary cooking device. Per capita consumption of firewood is 680kg per year in rural areas and 240kg per year in urban areas. An estimated 44 million tonnes of woody biomass are being cut each year, while the country’s forests can only produce 26 million tonnes sustainably.

Forests are essential, as they support Uganda’s economy, people’s livelihoods, and sustain biodiversity. They are also vital in mitigating climate change by providing carbon storage and sequestration services. The pressure to convert forests into agricultural land is high because of high population growth (3.2% annually), low productivity, land degradation, poor capacity of forest management agencies, and widespread
corruption. Uganda’s forest cover is reducing at an alarming rate, as between 1990 and 2010, Uganda lost 37% of its forests. It is estimated that if current trends continue, Uganda’s forests will disappear completely by 2050.

Meanwhile, many biomass residues from agriculture are not collected or used, and are instead left to rot or are burned in the fields. C.F. Nielsen has made an initial market study for Uganda, which documented the availability of biomass waste in large quantities across the country, including sawdust, bagasse, rice husks and straw, sunflower hulls, cotton seed hulls, tobacco dust, maize cobs and stalks, groundnut shells, and flower waste. If biomass was collected and used for fuel, it would be a win-win situation for both the people of Uganda, their forests, and the climate.

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A new machine

 width=Industrial-grade briquetting machines are currently very large, with capacities exceeding 500kg/h as a minimum. This size limits their use to large facilities with abundant raw material. There is also a lot of smallscale equipment with 5-10 kg/h capacities, but these are not industrial grade and will not last in long-term operations. Thus, building up a briquetting business using these low-capacity machines will be difficult.

In order to be more flexible and to serve smaller communities, C.F. Nielsen is now looking at developing a machine — in addition to its leading high-capacity range— with a capacity of 150-200 kg/hour with auxiliary equipment for breaking down and pre-drying biomass. The machine can then not only be used for various materials
like wood and agricultural waste products, but it can also be moved around to various locations according to the agricultural seasons. The briquettes can be used instead
of charcoal, and by turning organic waste into solid fuel, it will reduce deforestation.

The user will then have a solid product with which to make briquettes that are also of better quality than the cheaper options. People with excess organic waste can turn their waste into valuable briquettes for their own use or for further retail, thus increasing their income.

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