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Vol. XXVI, 3rd Quarter
July – September 2008

Charcoal is cool!

By Rizalina K. Araral
Senior Science Research Specialist, FPRDI

Soaring fuel costs burn a hole especially in the poor’s shrinking pocket. With the simmering energy crunch, charcoal is cool again, experts at the Department of Science and Technology’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute in Los Baños said.

“Charcoal briquettes are a mixture of charcoal powder and starch molded under pressure,” says forester Felix B. Tamolang who is FPRDI officer-in-charge. 

“Briquettes made of charcoal powder recycled from charcoal wastes are 50 percent cheaper than liquefied petroleum gas. These are also more cost-effective than wood charcoal, and burn longer and steady while emitting very little smoke.”

“Briquettes as a source of fuel is ideal for many Filipinos because,” Tamolang explains, “these don’t have to be bought in bulk but come in small packs that are well within the budget of the daily wage earner.”

“Aside from homes and restaurants, charcoal briquettes may also be used in poultries and bakeries. Quality briquettes sell well abroad, especially in Europe, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and US,” he added.

FPRDI has developed a simple, manually operated machine that can produce 2,400 kilos of charcoal briquettes monthly.



FPRDI’s Belen B. Bisana said that producing 2,400 kilos of briquettes from coconut shells monthly would cost about P61,000. The amount covers equipment and tools, raw materials, labor, and packaging material. “Our studies show that charcoal briquetting is profitable,” she disclosed.

“The best local material is coconut shell charcoal waste because it has the highest heating value. Good alternatives are sawdust, sugar cane bagasse, coconut husk, and pili shell charcoal wastes,” she said

 According to Bisana, “a family corporation in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley has been successfully producing charcoal briquettes and is exporting these to Japan for several years now.”

Others on Bisana’s charcoal briquet research team include Dante Pulmano, Allan Bondad, and Norma Toretta.