Biomass energy, such as fire wood and charcoal, is still the main cooking fuel in most developing countries worldwide. Wood fuel collection and charcoal production are a cause of illegal logging that can lead to severe forest degradation and deforestation. Nearly 3 billion people rely on open fires and traditional stoves to cook their food. These stoves emit massive amount of air pollution inside homes. Nearly 4 million deaths per year are attributable to household air pollution, impacting mainly women and children. Global charcoal production will continue to increase in coming decades due to population growth, poverty, urbanization and the relatively high price of alternative energy sources for cooking. “GREEN CHARCOAL” has the potential of generating benefits for people and environment. Our company (OTAGO PTE. LTD.) has performed extensive research and developed in-depth knowledge related to the production of extremely high-quality Eco Char-Briquettes, which produce less smoke and sparks (resulting in a safer and healthier fuel for end-users), has a lower ash content and last longer than wood-charcoal. OTAGO’s Eco-Friendly Char-Briquettes are produced with charred biomass deriving from agricultural and industrial wastes (coconut shells, corn cobs and bamboo), and charcoal residues deriving from wood-charcoal production and biomass power plants (biomass gasifiers and boilers). The charring process of biomass is known as pyrolysis and entails the thermo-chemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures, in the absence of oxygen. When biomass is charred, it practically concentrates its energy content in a small mass, increasing its fixed carbon content while reducing its volatile matter. OTAGO developed an innovative drying process which recycles the heat produced in charring kilns, called TLUD (Top Lit Updraft Gasifier), to dry the Char-Briquettes. The hot air is blown in from a TLUD through a seven meters long tunnel, where racks of wet briquettes are dried. The racks are loaded on rails from the other end of the tunnel, and move towards the hot end (this process takes between 18 to 24 hours). This counter-flow heating and drying technology produces strong and uniform briquettes with a moisture content of below 8%. The innovative drying process represents a solution for one of the biggest challenges in the Char-Briquettes manufacturing sector. In fact, scarcity of drying space and difficulties with drying in the rainy season are factors limiting the scale and consistency of production in most developing countries, where usually sun-drying techniques are applied (up to 10 days are needed to reach the same moisture content). In addition to the drying technology, OTAGO has implemented an extremely efficient production management approach, based on industrial production techniques and best practices (including its own customized information system OSYS), making its manufacturing facility one of the most advanced in the sector. Since in developing countries the key turning points are product quality and low production costs, OTAGO’s industrial based approach represents the key factor for its competitive advantage. Currently, OTAGO is based in Cambodia, one of the countries with highest deforestation rates in the world, and where biomass energy makes up to 70% of total energy consumption (of which more than 90% is supplied by wood fuel). With its unique production process which leverages on proprietary technologies for scalable production, OTAGO has so far saved about 75,000 tons of CO2 emissions and an equivalent to 400 football field of natural forest in Cambodia. Providing advanced technical assistance for the design, factory blue print, set-up and operation of industrial production plants for Eco Char-Briquettes, OTAGO is now starting replicating its successful business model globally. With a profound experience developed in the past years, OTAGO aims to become the benchmark for Eco Char-Briquettes manufacturing, in terms of quality, production technology and financial investments in the sector.
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