On 09 November our team tried carbonizing sesame chaff just east of N'Djamena. Since those preliminary tests, Aquilas, Ghislain, and members of APRO-ECO have been collecting sesame chaff in Moundou to get enough char to make briquettes.
According to Aquilas, the charcoal briquette quality equals that of the rice-straw charcoal. This news comes at a great time as ENVODEV is in the process of turning this project into a larger sustainable vocational program (Charcoal as Vocation).
Along with this encouraging discovery for our project, our ENVODEV staff in Chad has been working closely with villagers of Tilo and Belaba to test a new form of binder. The current binder used to make the briquettes is manioc, a root also known as Kassava. But manioc remains our number one cost for briquette making, and the cost is fairly high. That expense will decrease with time as ENVODEV forms partnerships with local manioc cultivators, but in the meantime, a cheaper binder would be more than welcome to find. Women of Belaba made a new binder from a plant that grows in the wild. This plant, used to make a basic sauce called Tan Koul, is much more abundant and available than manioc, and in terms of cost, represents only one fifth of what manioc costs.
Both the discovery of sesame chaff as a new form of bio char and the wild plant as an alternative binder will inevitably help the eco-charcoal project become more accessible to everyone, and more easily sustainable.