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Naboo

New charcoal retort design

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Hello woodfolk,

 

I am designing a portable charcoal/biochar retort for use by professional woodcolliers. I am pretty sure about the way my design will work, but I am after ideas of what people would want from a retort, such as capacity or the maximum weight of the thing.

 

Most of my experience has been in woodland creation and tree surgery rather than charcoal making. I have used a ring kiln a couple of times but a retort is obviously a little different. My main motivation is environmental. ie. local charcoal, produced as cleanly as possible, from sustainable woodlands and not destroying habitats on the other side of the planet.

 

What do members think of the state of the market for charcoal and biochar?

 

What do you think of the current devices out there?

 

I am open to any thoughts really. Although I've thought the design through pretty thoroughly over the last couple of years, I'm sure there will be some things that I haven't thought of yet.

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6 hours ago, Naboo said:

Hello woodfolk,

 

I am designing a portable charcoal/biochar retort for use by professional woodcolliers. I am pretty sure about the way my design will work, but I am after ideas of what people would want from a retort, such as capacity or the maximum weight of the thing.

 

Most of my experience has been in woodland creation and tree surgery rather than charcoal making. I have used a ring kiln a couple of times but a retort is obviously a little different. My main motivation is environmental. ie. local charcoal, produced as cleanly as possible, from sustainable woodlands and not destroying habitats on the other side of the planet.

 

What do members think of the state of the market for charcoal and biochar?

 

What do you think of the current devices out there?

 

I am open to any thoughts really. Although I've thought the design through pretty thoroughly over the last couple of years, I'm sure there will be some things that I haven't thought of yet.

My old mate Al Waters uses an Exeter  retort . the very first one made I believe . You can find it on youtube  if that helps any .

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7 hours ago, Naboo said:

 

What do members think of the state of the market for charcoal and biochar?

 

What do you think of the current devices out there?

 

I am open to any thoughts really. Although I've thought the design through pretty thoroughly over the last couple of years, I'm sure there will be some things that I haven't thought of yet.

The market seems variable based on location. I make a small amount each year in a home made retort but demand for native charcoal  is very limited. Whereas I see others further east seem not to be able to keep up with demand. I put it down to the weather but only a guess. We charge trade £4 for 2kg and if was being all about the money I would not consider messing about with charcoal and stick to the logs. A cube of logs is a £100 and that same cube converted to charcoal  makes just £140! If my retort could be run cooler the conversion rate would probably be a touch better but even so......

 

Retort wise I only know of 3 designs. The Pressvess ones which seem well thought through and solidly built with a good system for burning the gasses cleanly. The Exeter which seems popular but from what I have read has had problems with distortion. The fire box is unlined so if you run it hard and clean it seems bound to suffer. The Hookway which is by nature very clean using rocket stove technology but not productive enough for anyone looking to earn a crust.

 

The one I made is halfway between the Hookway and the Exeter production wise but hopefully closer to Hookway money wise. Probably just going to selling plans and not finished retorts.

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3 hours ago, Woodworks said:

Retort wise I only know of 3 designs. The Pressvess ones which seem well thought through and solidly built with a good system for burning the gasses cleanly. The Exeter which seems popular but from what I have read has had problems with distortion. The fire box is unlined so if you run it hard and clean it seems bound to suffer. The Hookway which is by nature very clean using rocket stove technology but not productive enough for anyone looking to earn a crust.

 

Thanks for the promt replies people.

 

It seems to me that the main problems are making something with a large enough capacity to make it worthwhile to do a burn whilst:

1) still portable.

2) not spreading your materials so thinly that the machine is likely to distort in the heat.

 

Obviously the quality of native charcoal tends to be a lot higher than imported stuff, so I hope it would command a premium (to a degree).

But I'm also hoping that if I can increase the efficiency, then it might be possible to compete with imported charcoal on price too.

 

 

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Yes I think it needs to be fairly large as you need to be converting 1.5 -2 cube of logs a day to consider it being profitable in my limited experience. Maybe we should promote native charcoal more but keep the price up. It is superior so why not charge more? Unless the price of logs goes through the floor I cant see how native charcoal can compete with cheap imported charcoal as the raw material simply has too much value regardless of efficiency.

 

PS welcome to Arbtalk and by the way have you still got that mate who gets deals at Dixons? :) 

Edited by Woodworks

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4 hours ago, Woodworks said:

PS welcome to Arbtalk and by the way have you still got that mate who gets deals at Dixons? :) 

Yes but it's a 'Currys PC World' now and the deals arn't quite as good. He's thinking of giving it up and having me transform him into a mighty hawk. He recons he'll get better pay scaring pigeons and starlings from the roof of Dalston shopping precinct. They have a real bird poop problem apparently.

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14 minutes ago, Naboo said:

Yes but it's a 'Currys PC World' now and the deals arn't quite as good. He's thinking of giving it up and having me transform him into a mighty hawk. He recons he'll get better pay scaring pigeons and starlings from the roof of Dalston shopping precinct. They have a real bird poop problem apparently.

xD brilliant 

Edited by Woodworks

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2 hours ago, Stere said:

Alot of charcoal made in  Somalia funding terrorism:

Yes. I'm guessing most charcoal production around the world is damaging to people and or their environment in some way.

 

On the contrary, I remember being taught at college that well managed coppice woodland (with standard trees) has much higher biodiversity that unmanaged climax woodland. A rare case of an artificial landscape possibly being 'better' than a natural one. (Not that I am advocating all British woodland being turned to coppice of course.)

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