Briquettes are our main business at Alkebulan, we provide sustainable briquettes and enhance local sustainable cooperation through a Collaborative Economy.
But what are our briquettes useful for and what is their potential? Let’s find out in our latest article.
Introduction to briquettes
Briquettes are produced from a variety of Agricultural waste or wood residues and through a shredding and pressing process in order to determine a significant increase in density, compared to the original raw material. The briquetting machines, i.e. the machines used in this process, make the briquettes giving them a cylindrical shape and are sometimes provided with a hole to help them burn.
Compared to wood, briquettes have a double density and an excellent energy yield.
Briquettes have the characteristic of retaining heat longer than firewood, keeping the temperature in the stove or boiler high.
If used in the ignition phase, they facilitate the combustion of the incoming fuel, to be used after the briquettes have performed their function as a “facilitator” of combustion. Briquettes are mainly used in house and it is therefore important to make sure that they are free of substances that may be toxic such as inherent forestry waste impurities, paint glues and in any case that they have not been produced with waste deriving from industrial processing. Briquettes also have the advantage of considerable compaction and this is an important advantage in terms of transport and storage costs.
The briquettes market is in most cases to be considered occasional, as they are used in stoves and boilers, but more and more “industrial” and “institutional” users find their benefits appealing.
Here below we dive in depth about the briquettes in Kenya.
Use of Briquettes in Kenya
Biomass briquettes are a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels like coal and charcoal. In places where conventional cooking fuels are hard to get by, briquettes have become increasingly popular. Briquettes are increasingly being utilized in the industrialized world to heat industrial boilers and generate power through steam generation. Coal and the briquettes are co-fired to generate the heat needed to run the boiler. By densifying biomass, the properties of this renewable energy source are enhanced, and this is the process known as briquetting. Densification reduces the amount of space required to produce the same amount of work.
Importance of briquettes
Biomass briquettes are an alternative energy source that are renewable, non-polluting, and cost-effective. The procedure used to turn biomass into solid fuel has no harmful byproducts. There is no need for a synthetic glue or chemical, making this an all-natural product. Briquettes are a great way to keep rural-urban connections alive while also achieving the goals of circular bio economy techniques including waste minimization and the promotion of more sustainable bio resources and market-based activities.
Fuel costs can be reduced by up to 25% when switching to briquettes from other fossil fuels.
Helps the community
They are able to improve their standard of living by providing raw materials such as sawdust and coffee husks to the local industry. In addition, there are 12 man-days of job potential created by producing 1 tonne of briquettes.
Easy to transport
Compared to the 60-180 kg/m3 of loose biomass, briquettes have a high specific density (1200 Kg/m3) and bulk density (1000 Kg/m3) (Ngusale, 2014). These are durable enough to withstand the stresses of shipping over extended distances. Costs associated with loading and unloading, transporting, and storing are greatly reduced. Because of their low moisture content and increased density, briquettes significantly improve boiler efficiency over firewood or loose biomass.
when briquettes are burned, no fly ash is produced. Sulfur’s absence allows for heat recovery prior to venting exhaust into the environment.
Healthy to use
Compared to burning wood or charcoal, the briquettes produce less smoke and ash, which can help reduce indoor air pollution and the likelihood of respiratory illness. Environmental protection is aided by the use of feces for briquettes because this minimizes the need for charcoal and wood for cooking and heating.
Briquettes offer multiple ecological benefits
The use of briquettes also has the potential to preserve forests. In long-term studies undertaken at Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor, a conservation dry land landscape of about 200,000 ha, research led by Wildlife Works in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya and ICRAF is showing that tree regeneration could occur alongside biodiversity protection and charcoal briquette production from tree pruning in the area, since using pruning eliminates the need to cut down trees.
Potential of briquettes in Kenya
The briquette sector in Kenya has huge unrealized potential. Growth opportunities exist for companies of all sizes. The biomass feedstock providers, briquette machine fabricators, briquette producers, and even the end-use consumers are all part of the business ecosystem. Briquettes are a viable alternative to wood as a fuel source in Kenya, where the population is expanding but access to wood is decreasing. If more people switched to utilizing briquettes, we could lessen our impact on the environment by lowering pollution levels in cities and minimize the strain on our forests. One study conducted in Kibera, an informal community in Nairobi and one of Africa’s largest slums, found that families that used slow-burning briquettes saved an average of 70% on their cooking energy costs.
Entrepreneurs and supply chain members can generate significant revenue from the manufacture and sale of briquettes. Briquette production is quite simple to set up, and there is a sizable market for fuel used for cooking and heating in Africa. Even more so, the market for briquettes is highly competitive and not dominated by any single company or brand.
East Africa is experiencing a rise in domestic, commercial, and industrial energy demand. Around 82% of Kenyans use biomass as their primary cooking source (wood and charcoal). Cooking at hotels and restaurants, heating the buildings of poultry farmers, and providing heat in industrial boilers are just a few examples of the various institutional, commercial, and industrial uses for biomass fuels. Kenya’s briquetting industry is growing quickly, offering jobs and fuel for businesses and homes. As briquettes gain popularity, more companies will join the value chain.
The majority of our consumption of these fuels goes toward the production of electricity, which is then utilized to run our homes’ appliances, kitchens, and even our greenhouses. The rising number of people need a higher supply of wood for heating and cooking. The influx of people into cities and the proliferation of manufacturing only make this problem more severe. Additional power is required for all of these. The Kenyan Ministry of Energy estimates that annual demand for wood fuel rises by roughly 4.7 million metric tons (a linear increase of 2.7%), while the sustainable supply rises by only about 0.6%. Kenya’s government estimates that the capital city of Nairobi uses around 16 percent of the country’s daily output of charcoal, or 700 tonnes (Climate and Energy Advisory Ltd, 2018). Ten percent of the daily average of 700 tons is turned into charcoal dust, which either settles in rivers or is thrown in landfills.
Current briquette production and availability in Kenya
Since this industry is so young, there is little information available about the entire yearly production level of briquettes in Kenya. Additionally, most of the players in the market remain informal and high-turnover, with few enterprises making it through the 5-year mark before closing. Information on precise procedures and technical details is typically lacking in the informal economy because such information is rarely published. However, the sector’s output is approximately determined through a survey of several market producers and literary sources. The range of yearly production reported by producers for the year ending in 2019 was 15,625,000 to 2,400,000 kilograms of briquettes (Asamoah & Njenga, 2016). The approximate production capacity of producers is 45,000 tons/year (5 tons/day for 300 days/year), as reported by the briquette firms contacted during the field visits for the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) Indicators research. About 30 enterprises in Kenya now make non-carbonized briquettes from waste products like sugarcane bagasse, rice husks, pineapple, and other fruits and vegetables (UNEP, 2019).
Briquettes market price
Briquettes, which may be used in both industrial and domestic settings, are less expensive than charcoal, with the former costing around KES 45–50 per kilogram (for both household and industrial, applications). According to a CCAK study on biomass cook stoves and fuels in institutions, the average price of firewood is KES 25 per kilogram, whereas the price of fuel wood for industry is roughly KES 1500–1800 per cubic meter, or about KES 3–5 per kilogram. The cost of briquettes varies with the specific kind being purchased. Basically, one should expect to pay between KES 25 and KES 30 per kilogram for carbonized briquettes. Briquettes that haven’t been carbonized cost between KES 10 and KES 15 per kilogram and are used primarily by factories and medium-sized businesses (Asamoah & Njenga, 2019). Briquette prices have risen gradually over the years due to market forces and general inflation, approximating to about 15% rise per year or even more. None the less, Briquettes of Premium Quality fetches high prices.