Development of a low tech carbonising process for management by small enterprises - Faecal sludge to biochar (South Africa)

  • Oliver
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Development of a Low Tech Carbonising Process for Management by Small Enterprises.

As presented at FSM5 Conference in Cape Town (Feb 2019) - We have been piloting a low-tech carbonising process suitable for use by the small local enterprises (operation under a social franchise) as an additional service offering for their on-site sanitation activities.

See link to presentation:

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  • muench
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Re: Development of a Low Tech Carbonising Process for Management by Small Enterprises.

Dear Oliver,

Thanks for your forum post.

I have the following questions:
1 - How do you feel about air pollution issues (see photo below), and how would you deal with that at a larger scale?
2 - How is this work funded?

And I am going to add some information below to draw more attention to it and also to ensure this thread is found with the relevant keyword searches (the searches can't search inside a pdf file):


Faecal Sludge to “Biochar”.
• Biochar is the char product that is created
through the heating of organic biomass in a
low or no-oxygen environment through a
process called pyrolysis, and is then applied to
agricultural or forest soils

Why Biochar?
• Biochar supports agricultural sustainability,
food security and livelihoods for resourcepoor farmers in Africa and beyond
• Use of biochar is not only for soil enrichment
but also for the contribution as a carbon sink
and its value in carbon sequestration

Next Steps
• Improvements in the conservation of the energy
available from the pyrolysis of sludge together with
the downstream use of heat in the flue gasses can
provide additional benefit for drying
• Refining the kiln design to incorporate refractory
bricks or and insulation for heat retention would
allow for the reduction of wood fuel stock.
• Further refinements includes the addition of steel
ducting and pressure controls required to transfer
the heat from the pyrolysing kilns to be used in the
drying kilns or special developed drying chambers.

Way forward
• Prove process efficiency and effectiveness
• Field test product range – soil amendment
• Deregister processed faecal sludge
• Verify Economic and Agronomic data
• Add sludge drying stages
• Product testing and production quality



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  • jhallowell
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Re: Development of a Low Tech Carbonising Process for Management by Small Enterprises.

Elisabeth and Oliver,

High CO is a problem when making biochar. There are pollution control technologies such as catalysts that can reduce emissions.

Biochar is also important for nutrient recovery. In addition to the carbon, Phosphorus supply continues to be depleted and needs closed loop solutions like your process.

Thank you for sharing.

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