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Archena 03-27-2010 06:44 PM

Does This Make Sense?
 
The Potential of Green Charcoal

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mother Earth News
Carbonization of biomass is made in a continuous manner. It relates to a continuous carbonization of vegetable matter, followed by an agglomeration into briquettes or bars. This technology is based on the use of a retort heated to 550 degrees Celsius, in which the biomass flows continuously in the absence of oxygen. The temperature of the retort is maintained constant with the combustion of the pyrolysis gases that are recycled and burned in a second post-combustion chamber, thus avoiding the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

*Emphasis mine

Seriously, I'm not sure. I thought retorts had to be closed systems (my knowledge of same being minuscule and largely from reading threads here). How can it be 'continuous feed'? Wouldn't oxygen get introduced with the biomass?

The overall idea seems unwieldy to me - you can carbonize anything with carbon in it but that doesn't necessarily convert it into a useful form. Agricultural waste is likely to produce mostly dust and very friable chunks - to be of any practical use someone has to compress it using some serious pressure. Not sure that's workable in most Third World micro-economies - then there's the problem of the 'continuous feed retort' itself if it requires specialized machinery which will be incredibly difficult to maintain and get replacement parts for (this problem of mismatched technology is the bane of most such efforts).

Coppicing, if possible (not all species of trees take it well), would seem to me to be a better long term solution - especially if that retort thing actually works the way they say. But even if it did have to be shut down between loads wood charcoal doesn't require as much post-production processing. Probably doesn't reduce as much as chafe, either.


Okay, you engineering types can start laughing now...


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