The briquettes as an alternative source of fuel to conserve the environment.
The college has come up with a basic technology that can be adopted at family level to manufacture briquettes using crop residues such as sugarcane tops and trash, coffee and rice husks, bean wastes, maize stalks, grass, leaves and small branches. This is aimed at reducing stress on the environment.
In addition to the sugar cane trash, other crop residues like coffee husks, rice and soybean husks have been dry distilled in a study at Kabanyolo and in combination with sugar cane molasses, fuel briquettes have been produced. The technology of the milk booster was spearheaded by Dr. Fred Kabi, of the Department of Agricultural Production while the technology of fuel briquettes was also spear headed by Dr. Fred Kabi assisted by Azis Dara Charles a Mechanical and Production engineering Technician.
The technology involves carbonizing of waste materials in a kiln to produce a substance called carbon char. The carbon char is crashed into powder mixed with melted molasses as a binder to mold the briquettes. The manufactured briquettes are to be packaged for supply in the supermarket.
The briquettes come with special attributes of non remittance of the black smoke and is loaded with 19 MJ/kg DM of that briquette giving a full load of energy, recycled from agricultural by products and therefore not only easing on the pollution and linking the industry to the farmers but also diversifying on the sellable product from a single commodity sugar cane..
This is the technology that should be able to reach the sugar cane farmers where all the trees have been cut in favor of sugar cane production who are in dire need of alternative energy sources.. The major challenge though is designing appropriate and low cost machinery that can be affordable by the smallholder farmers.
One kilogram of the briquettes costs 2,500/=. For those interested in venturing into production, you need to order for a kiln whose price will depend on the size ordered.
These innovations are part of the effort to take Makerere University to the communities by translating science into tangible sellable products which can address the needs of the people like extreme hunger and poverty. Africa has remained poor despite the abundant resources. Uganda for instance produces about 115 metric tonnes of molasses per year and other residues in different sectors. If properly harnessed this energy could boost milk and beef production for local, regional and export markets.
The college believes that Uganda’s problem is the single commodity approach where crops, livestock and industries are considered as different entities lacking horizontal and vertical linkages to diversify products right from the farm. The way to go is exemplified by these new technologies where the country should have the forward and backward linkages within the crop, livestock and industry using the public private partnership.
The college is committed to providing the knowledge and technical expertise but lacks the financial capacity to fully commercialize the technologies given the overwhelming demand. The college appeals to Government and the Private sector to invest in the harnessing of agro-industrial by products such as molasses and other residues produced in the country as a public good to improve on farmer’s productivity.