This page is for our readers to air their views and make their comments. So, please write to us with your ideas/views/comments and suggestions for items that you feel should be covered in future issues, at the address given on the first page.

The smallest event can become a story if you tell it in the right way.

David Hockney

     We are a charity organization in Swaziland working with the rehabilitation of street children, drug addicts and ex alcohol abusers. We want to learn how to make charcoal. We have free access to a large forest of eucalyptus and pineculata (hardwood not suitable for other purposes). There is a potential market for charcoal here, where people are using fuelwood for heating their houses in open fireplaces which would be excellent for charcoal. I myself am using charcoal which I buy from Mozambique.

We believe we know how to make different types of kiln but our main problem is to know when the charcoal is ready, and also to find out when and how to regulate the oxygen. In one place we saw three to ten days of cooking time, which is a great variation.

We have the possibility of obtaining a large petrol tank which could perhaps be adapted - but how?

Looking forward to hearing from you. (Bjorn Brandberg, For the LightHouse Foundation, PO Box 131, Eveni-Mbabane, Swaziland. Fax: +(268) 40067; e-mail: b.brandberg@mail.com)

A copy of FAO Forestry Paper No. 41 - Simple technologies for charcoal making - was sent to Mr Brandberg, together with other information.


     Do you plan to include in your Forest Energy Forum discussions on the developments and impact of non-wood plant fibres on the sustainability of the forests as energy providers? For example, the bamboo plantations projected for Nicaragua and Honduras to supply fuel to power generation plants, or the use of agricultural residues to supplement traditional fuels for power and process steam plants, similar to the traditional use of bagasse in the cane sugar industry?

I look forward to following the Forest Energy Forum discussions, and contributing to whatever extent possible. (John T. McCloskey, President, Process Evaluation and Development Corporation [PEADCO], Dallas-Richardson, Texas, USA. E-mail: peadcojm@swbell.net; fax: (+972) 238-9411)

Yes, it is open to all the biofuels and your contributions are welcome. The following are some good reasons to include bamboo and sugar-cane bagasse in FEF articles and discussions:


     I have just received the second issue of Forest Energy Forum, which I think is an excellent publication for the promotion of an increased and sustainable use of biomass as an energy source. Congratulations on this valuable initiative! (Josef Spitzer, Joanneum Research, Austria)


     I am a German mechanical engineer working in Brazil in a German steel and tube plant in the energy department. Our plant has a production of nearly 500 000 tonnes of steel per year and our two blast furnaces are using as raw material charcoal instead of coke. To produce the nearly 240 000 tonnes of charcoal per year, we have a forest company, MAFLA, which has a lot of eucalyptus plantations in the State of Minas Gerais. Each farm has many charcoal kilns which are similar to the Missouri kilns with a rectangular form and a capacity of nearly 80 tonnes. The production is semi-automatic which means that the charging and discharging are made by truck and caterpillar, but the process control is still made by closing and opening holes in the side-walls of the kilns.

My interest is based on graduate research that I began in 1998. We want to study the process of carbonization and the heat transfer in the kiln to make the charcoal production more efficient and to reduce costs. We are going to experiment using the wood-tar from the furnace to make heat or using the heat of one furnace in the cooling state for drying the wood in another furnace. These tests are made in collaboration with the University of Minas Gerais.

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done. What I need first is a good literature base and an overview of what is going on in the world in research activities concerning industrial charcoal making. If anyone can help me I would be very pleased. I think this discussion forum is a very good opportunity to make contact with the right persons all over the world. (Ansgar Pinkowski, Mannesmann S.A., Superintendence of Energy, Usina Barreiro, Av. Olinto Meireles 65, Belo Horizonte-MG 30640-010, Brazil.
Tel.: (+55 31) 328 2985;
fax: (+55 31) 328 2695;
e-mail: msaiet@mannesmann.com.br)

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