Greetings from the 2011 - 2012 Ghana Briquette team. We are excited to pick up the baton from last year's team and move forward. This year's team, consisting of four engineers and two social work students, is building upon the success of the 2010 - 2011 Ghana Briquette team and working to further lay the foundations for a briquette enterprise in in Patriensa.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, we are working to start a social enterprise that will produce and sell briquettes made from recycled waste sawdust. According to local contacts, families in the village of Patriensa, Ghana, spend two to four hours daily, traveling six miles out of town by foot, to gather wood. Alternatively, charcoal is an unsustainable and expensive fuel source produced by cutting down large trees and slowly burning them over the course of several days, further contributing to deforestation. In addition, purchasing charcoal heavily taxes the personal income of villagers and sends local money to outside entities. The sawdust produced by the lumber industry in Patriensa provides a unique opportunity for the production of a sustainable alternative fuel source by recycling the waste sawdust through a process known as “briquetting.” Simply put, briquetting compacts biomass using pressure generated by a hand press in order to produce a fuel that can easily be used in place of charcoal or wood. The biomass mixture consists of sawdust and a binder, which may be comprised of a range of local materials such as manure, palm oil, and casava.
The establishment of a local and self-sustainable social enterprise around briquetting will offer the residents a more affordable source of energy for their meals as well as job opportunities. The enterprise will sell briquettes produced by employed community members. A board of directors that has vested interest in the community will oversee the enterprise. All profits made from this business will go towards a fund managed by the directors set up to finance future community projects and improvements. Our team will fully develop and test the briquette press, determine the optimal briquette mixture, and construct an efficient solar dryer for drying the briquettes. Fuel mixtures will be tested to decide which mixture will prove most effective for our market. We plan on educating the community about the process of producing a briquette and the sustainable properties it holds. Several enterprise strategies will be researched to discover the most effective way to ensure the success of implementing briquettes in the community of Patriensa.
Stay tuned, more posts to follow!