Uniyal, S K and Kumar, Amit (2011) Charcoal making: going green with black. Current Science, 100 (1). p. 9.

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The recent article by Jha et al.1 demonstrates the wide applicability of biochar and makes interesting reading. As rightly pointed out by the authors, charcoal is perhaps the best example of biochar. Considering the interest that has been generated by Jha et al.1, many readers would be interested in knowing how actually charcoal is made. During one of our recent field surveys to Kasera locality in Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh, Figure 1. Hearths used for making charcoal. Note the logs scattered in the background and charcoal in foreground. Also visible is the smoke emanating from the hearths. we saw small hearths (Figure 1), locally called ‘bhattis’, used for making charcoal. From a distance these look like small huts and are so uniform as if a template has been used for making them. However, no templates are used. The observed huts roughly measured from 250 to 260 cm in width and 195 to 200 cm in height (n = 6). Each hut had an archshaped opening that extended half way up to the top and many small holes of 5–6 cm diameter on the side walls. It is through this arch-shaped window that the wooden logs are placed in the hearth and burnt to produce charcoal. There are no precise dimensions for the logs, but they are cut so that they easily slip into the hearth. Once the woody biomass has been properly stacked inside the hearth, it is ignited. The arch opening is now plastered and one can see smoke coming from the multiple holes. Slowly, one by one, these holes are also plastered and the biomass is allowed to burn in the absence of oxygen. After 3–5 days, when the biomass has burned and the hearth is not that hot, the plastered door is opened. It is inspected and left as such for some time. The charcoal is then collected and filled in gunny bags. Each filled bag weighs around 28–30 kg and is sold for Rs 300 per bag. According to the persons interviewed (n = 11), a hearth in which 25–30 q of biomass has been burned yields around 5–6 q of charcoal. This generally is used for heating purposes and is a source of greenhouse gases. However, the reported applicability of biochar for carbon sequestration1 is a ‘green side’ of this black material, and perhaps an important one.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Charcoal making:
Subjects: Plant sciences
Chemical Engineering
Depositing User: Dr. Aparna Maitra Pati
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2012 04:25
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2012 04:25
URI: http://ihbt.csircentral.net/id/eprint/950

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