Non-Carbonised Briquettes

Shannon West  <img src="" alt="Trulli" width="25" height="25">
Shannon West Trulli

Bachelor’s in Psychology – Texas State University.

In Kenya, non-carbonized briquettes from waste are a burgeoning part of the eco-friendly energy scheme. Briquettes are made from agricultural waste that has been sieved to remove large pieces, such as glass and stone. High pressure and high temperature are applied to the resulting mixture which causes the lignin (organic polymers that create important structural materials in the support tissues of the majority of plants) to flow and bind everything together; Starch, clay, or soil may be added if the base materials are not holding together. The resulting solid briquette is used in place of firewood or charcoal. Briquettes can be used to power boilers to create steam and for generators and gasifiers to create electricity. They burn longer than charcoal and are better for the environment in many ways (Rao and Gebrezgabher, 2018).
A briquette enterprise can be fit for carbon offset depending on the sort of fuel interchanged and, in turn, the baseline used to measure advantages from diminished greenhouse gas emissions. The organic materials that go into briquettes are already part of the carbon cycle, and they have lower net GHG emissions compared to fossil fuels. There are even carbon benefits for using briquettes from crop residue to replace wood as fuel in regions with high deforestation (Rao and Gebrezgabher, 2018). Wood as fuel can create emissions that have negative environmental and health impacts, particularly when burned in ineffective appliances, which is often the case (Ramsay & Njenga, 2021).
When flue gases from several different sources were compared, briquettes produced only 74 parts per million (ppm) of carbon monoxide compared to 5,579 ppm for coal – a notable difference. The OSHA limit for carbon monoxide release is 50 to 200 ppm; the eco-fuel briquettes fall into that range which means they are safe for human use (Pilusa et al., 2013). A study was conducted to measure the weight in grams needed to cook a pot of beans among charcoal, carbonized briquettes, and noncarbonized briquettes. The amount needed of charcoal was by far the highest at 392 grams, followed by noncarbonized briquettes at 290.3 grams, and carbonized briquettes at 203.7 grams (Brenda et al., 2017). Slightly more noncarbonized briquettes are required than their carbonized counterparts to cook the same amount of food, but the noncarbonized type are more affordable. According to Developing Energy Enterprises – East Africa (DEEP-EA), briquettes are priced competitively with all fuels and, at times, are sold at a lower price per unit of energy. Briquettes produce a less intense heat than kerosene, charcoal, and firewood, but burn for longer – a key selling point.
Organic materials create methane gas when left to decay which is even more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. Using the waste to create briquettes can prevent the negative byproducts of the decomposition process (Rao & Gebrezgabher, 2018). According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), briquettes release less greenhouse gases and burn cleaner than firewood and are a means to recycle organic matter that would otherwise pollute the environment. Additionally, allowing the trees to thrive will ensure that they can continue to store carbon, further preventing climate change.
The market value for the charcoal industry is approximately 1.6 billion (Ndegwa et al., 2020). According to DEEP-EA, a number of industries use charcoal when a cleaner burning and longer lasting fuel than firewood is required. In these cases, the opportunity for briquettes as a substitute is significant. 70 percent of domestic energy needs in Kenya are met by biomass fuels. In 2000, 34.3 million tons of biomass fuel was purchased in Kenya (16.5 million tons of charcoal and 15.1 million tons of firewood). With proper education, charcoal and firewood consumers could convert to briquette use. Recent information shows that the wood demand in Kenya is 41.7 million cubic meters, but the supply is only 31.4 million cubic meters (Ndwega et al., 2020). Not only is firewood use causing deforestation, there just isn’t enough supply to meet the demand – a major gap that the briquette industry could fill.
The demand for firewood in the Kenyan tea industry alone is one million tons annually. Currently, 5 percent of the annual energy demand of the tea industry is met by bagasse briquettes, and this equates to approximately 490 tons of wood (7,400 MJ/year) – a percentage that has the potential to grow (Global Bioenergy Partnership, 2019). According to DEEP-EA, poultry farmers in the highlands use briquettes to keep cages warm at night during cool weather. This use is perfectly suited to briquettes because they burn longer without the need for additional fuel. Vital consumers of non-carbonized briquettes in Kenya include hospitals, schools, the tea industry, vegetable oil processing industry, and the tobacco industry, among others (Global Bioenergy Partnership, 2019).
The biggest focus of the briquette industry should be education. There are plenty of potential consumers that just don’t know enough about the benefits of briquette use. Informing Kenyans should be a major focus to promote conversion from firewood and charcoal (Ramsay and Njenga, 2021). As reported by DEEP-EA, in Ranen, some people were given demonstrations on how to use briquettes, along with free product samples. Due to this, briquette awareness among the locals is very high. A random sample of Ranen locals were interviewed, and 75 percent had heard of briquettes and 36 percent had tried using them. Active marketing positively impacts briquette knowledge and use and should be aggressively employed.
There are 12 sugar mills in Kenya which produce 2.4 million tons of bagasse each year that still remains unused. Additionally, the energy potential for the unutilized bagasse is predicted to reach 300 MW (Global Bioenergy Partnership, 2019). The raw materials to make noncarbonized briquettes are plentiful, and the demand is there and has the potential to grow far past its current value with proper marketing and education. Briquettes prevent negative impacts of decomposing waste, prevent forest degradation which leads to more carbon storage, and release less GHG than other fuel sources. According to DEEP-EA, the situation is constantly changing and factors such as government regulation and deforestation could lead to increased promotion of briquettes in Kenya in the coming years.


Brenda, M. G., Innocent, E. E., Daniel, O., & Abdu, Y. A. (2017). Performance of Biomass Briquettes as an Alternative Energy Source Compared to Wood Charcoal in Uganda. International Journal of Scientific Engineering and Science, 1(6), 55–60.

Developing Energy Enterprises Project – East Africa. (2010). Kenya Briquette Industry Study. GVEP International. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from:

Global Bioenergy Partnership. (2019). Building Capacity for Enhancing Bioenergy Sustainability Through the Use of the Global Bioenergy Partnership Indicators. UN Environment. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from:

Ndegwa G, Sola, P., Iiyama M, Okeyo I, Njenga M, Siko I., Muriuki, J. (2020). Charcoal value chains in Kenya: a 20-year synthesis. Working Paper number 307. World Agroforestry, Nairobi, Kenya. DOI:

Pilusa, T. J., Hughes, R., & Muzenda, E. (2013). Emissions Analysis from Combustion of Eco-fuel Briquettes for Domestic Applications. Journal of Energy in Southern Africa, 24(4), 24–36.

Ramsay, D., & Njenga, M. (2021, May 4). Five Things to Know About Briquettes and Sustainable Bioenergy in Africa. Forests News. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from:

Rao, K. C. & Gebrezgabher, S. (2018). Briquettes from Agro-waste., Resource Recovery From Waste: Business Models for Energy, Nutrient and Water Reuse in Low- and Middle-income Countries (pp. 52– 60). essay, Taylor & Francis.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Fire Briquettes as a Mitigation Strategy for Vulnerable Grassroots Communities – Kenya. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2022, from:

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