Kenya breaks ground with formula to turn coffee husks into charcoal

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

An ingenious method of making charcoal from coffee husks is being developed in Kenya, where there is no shortage of coffee. Known as "Kahawa coal" (Kahawam is Coffee in Swahili), the charcoal is being made by the Kenya Planters' Cooperative Union (KPUC), which says the product could burn for an average of seven hours continuously.

Production began last September at one ton a day and is now averaging three to five tons a day. It is on sale cheaply at stores throughout Kenya in packets of two and four kilograms.

The KPUC estimates that full production capacity would be seven tons a day.

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Kenya has an annual crop averaging 100,000 tons of coffee a year which could produce 25,000 tons of husk, making 8,000 tons of charchoal. Three more factories would be needed to meet the KPUC forcast.

The KPCU claims to be the first organization in the world making charchola from coffee husks. It claims the "Kahawa coal" is more economical than traditional methods of manufacturing charcoal and believes the new coal might be one means of conserving forests in a country where 90 percent of the people use wood or charcoal for f uel.

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