Turning agricultural waste into solid fuel through thermochemical treatment

Open burning of biomass is a widespread practice, and is estimated to account for 18% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Much of this burning takes place on farms, where agricultural residue is burned to clear the land for another crop cycle. However, this burning is an environmental burden and a missed economic opportunity.

This project aims to design a low-cost, portable, and small-scale thermochemical conversion process that turns unmanaged organic waste into biochar on-site. Agricultural waste that was once a burden could prove valuable as char has various commercial uses, such as a cost-saving solid fuel or as a carbon-negative fertilizer.

An earlier miniature-scale design version of the project has already undergone field implementation and seen some commercial success in Kenya. A lab-scale demonstration of the technology is currently underway, and will be followed by a larger scale field pilot.

Factor(E) Energy for Development Prize and Fulbright Scholarship (Kevin Kung)
Rabobank-MIT Food and Water Innovation Prize
IDEAS Global Challenge

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Poster: A Decentralized Biomass Torrefaction System

Poster: Design of a Lab-Scale Torrefaction Reactor