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What is the best retort to make charcoal commercially?

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Dear Arbtalk people,

I'm brand new to the forum and I'm kindly requesting some advice.  I'm based in western Kenya where I manufacture charcoal  briquettes from waste charcoal powder. The entire country is facing a looming disaster because 60% of the people rely on firewood for fuel and heating. Obviously this isn't exactly sustainable and I wish to use sugarcane bagasse, rice husks and sawdust waste from the timber industry and convert it to charcoal dust in a kiln. My reseach indicated that a large exter double barrel retort kiln may do the trick on a commercial basis! 1. Does anyone please advise me on my options on kilns. 2. We distribute our product through poor rural women as a community empowerment means so financial considerations are key to our success so we cannot afford to import a kiln. Does anyone have drawings or know where i can get drawings/instructions on how i can construct an exeter retort?  I highly appreciate any advice

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My old mate Alan Waters has the first Exeter they made .  Its looking a bit battered now but still does the job .

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8 hours ago, Africoal said:

Dear Arbtalk people,

 I'm based in western Kenya where I manufacture charcoal  briquettes from waste charcoal powder.

This sounds similar to Elsen Karstad's operation near Nairobi. He initially charred sawdust and compressed it into briquettes with a clay binder but then found charcoal vendor's waste was readily available and could be extruded into briquettses


I have not used an Exeter, the only mobile device other than a traditional ring kiln was the Viper, which was a kiln rather than a retort and not the best of charcoal makers. It's one attribute was the char was cooked to a higher temperature than most retorts do. For use in a stove like an improved Jiko  you want a char cooked at a higher temperature as this has few volatiles left to produce smoke or flame.


@Woodworks has produced a design for a small retort system that  produces charcoal from small chunks of wood which does about 20kg per burn in a cycle time of about an hour.


A D Karve and his daughter Priya have done some work in India making char from sugar cane leaves using a simple retort on the style of that used in Russia by Yury Yudkevitch and Alex Belonio  in Vietnam has developed a number of cooking devices that burn rice hulls in a gasifier.


For larger scale look to the people making biochar from agriwastes in simple flame cap devices, which are a modern adaptation of methods used to make small charcoal pieces in  England in the eighteenth century.

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I produce my own charcoal, the most cost effective way that I’ve found is by using old 47 litre scrap metal gas bottles, cut the tops off after carefully making sure it’s been vented of all gas.
Fill the bottle to the top with dry wood pieces that’s a by product of log splitting ,spot weld the top back on and fill the gap with fire cement.
I place 3 bottles in an ibc frame and burn waste pallets around them.
Takes a few hours to produce great quality char with no uncooked at all.
The bottles last forever because of the quality steel they’re made of.

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