Charcoal briquette making device in Goma

Hello – I’m new to Afrigadgets and look forward to sharing the interesting innovations we come across every day.

A small group of innovative conservationists have come up with a solution to save the Virunga National Park in eastern Congo from destruction by charcoal producers who are devastating the forests to serve the needs of Goma’s burgeoning population of displaced people.

Their approach to ending the dependence on charcoal is to provide an alternative form of energy – briquettes made of organic wastes. Here are some photos of the gadget and results!

The briquette press
The briquette press
Piston Cylinder with holes
Piston Cylinder with holes
Bruquette press at work
Briquette press at work
Briquettes drying out
Jiko fueled on briquettes
A traditional Jiko adapted and fueled on briquettes

“The beauty in these briquettes is that they are made from what has been considered, up to this point, waste. Furthermore, the material is available locally, so there are virtually no transportation costs. And, once the burn characteristics of the briquettes are understood, they burn very similarly to charcoal. If introduced to the marketplace properly, the presence of biomass briquettes should dramatically reduce the consumption of illegal forest charcoal. That’s good for mountain gorillas and people alike”. Robert Williams from Ending Charcoal

Indeed as I write the briquettes are on sale at half the price of charcoal and are selling well. It has been calculated that with 100 presses at work at once, the dependence of the town of Goma on charcoal will be ended (though they do have to find alot of trash for it)! The technology is available elsewhere but I’ve yet to see it put to use so successfully for such an important social and environmental cause.