African Christians Organization Network (ACON) is using electric powered briquette makers to press moisture out of waste biomass such as Water Hyacinth from Lake Victoria. These briquettes are used as a cooking fuel. They burn well in either their own traditional efficient cooking stoves or a newer version stove that generates biochar. Soils amended with biochar have increased growth productivity. Several benefits include: reduced deforestation, employment, revenue generation, family health
Traditional African stoves consist of three stones set up as a tripod to hold a pot over top of sticks of wood that are burned as fuel. This kind of stove is extremely inefficient and generated an excessive amount of smoke which leads to respiratory illness for women and children in the household. Moreover, these traditional stoves consume large amounts of fuel in the form of forest wood which required hard work and long hours to collect each day. Kenya is experiencing deforestation.
ACON is harvesting an invasive species off of Lake Victoria (Water Hyacinth) and drying and compressing this material into fuel briquettes that are used in ACON's "Made in Kenya" efficient cooking stoves. These stoves operate in such a manner as to produce no smoke and they generate a valuable byproduct "Biochar" that can be used as a soil enhancement in household gardens and farms. Stoves, briquettes, and biochar can be sold generate income for the household. Reduced forest wood use results.
Women and children who use ACON's clean efficient cooking stoves will experience a reduced illness due to respiratory diseases. The stoves also reduce time spent collecting wood or purchases of wood. A number of environmental benefits will be realized including reduced deforestation, and improvements to soils (using the residue from the stoves, charcoal in the form of biochar). The project has already benefited 40,000 people and could benefit 100's of thousands more people. Income is earned!
This project has provided additional documentation in a Microsoft Word file (projdoc.doc).
ACON's Project Website
National Geographic's -Great Energy Challenge Blog
International Biochar Initiative Profile on ACON