A company owned by youth in Kakamega is using sugarcane waste to produce charcoal.
Eco2librium gets bagasse from Butali and West Kenya sugar millers to produce the renewable source of energy. The sugarcane waste has largely remained underutilised after cane crushing by many factories.
According to records, millers in Kakamega generate over 1.55 million tonnes of sugarcane bagasse every year but only 25 per cent of it is economically utilised for generation of heat for internal use.
For the last two years Eco2librium, which is located at Ivakale Village and comprises 30 youths has been using sugarcane waste and making charcoal briquettes from it. Currently they are producing over 800 bags per month.
According to company director Christopher Amutabi, charcoal made from sugarcane produce less ash and dust while burning, is affordable and burns three to four times longer than wood charcoal.
Mr Amutabi said they came up with the idea in a bid to save the only existing equatorial forest on the continent (Kakamega forest) from destruction.
“Our main targets are locals living around Kakamega forest. We came up with this project as an alternative source of fuel to the locals to substitute wood charcoal,” he said.
The director noted that plans are underway to put up a factory next year that will see them produce 30,000 tonnes of charcoal briquettes a month.
He said they are given wet bagasse from the two millers, which takes two to three weeks to dry when exposed to direct sunlight in a bid to reduce moisture content by 60 per cent.
He said the dry bagasse is then burnt in a kiln for 12 hours with limited oxygen supply to convert it from white to a black substance commonly known as carbonised bagasse.
“We add soil, molasses and water to the carbonised bagasse for easy binding. After the bagasse is properly carbonised, we now start making briquettes using the charcoal powder briquette machine,” he said.
Mr Douglas Wanyonyi, Eco2librium briquette coordinator said molasses is used to speed up lighting when ones want to cook.