June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Energy Conversion and Conservation
23.1064.1 - 23.1064.9
Service Learning Without Borders – Turning Peanut Shell to Fuel Briquette in the Gambia The Gambia is a small country located at the tip of West Africa. A relative peaceful lifein the past decades brought rapid increment of the population. Since most people stillcannot afford the gas or electricity, they often turn to trees for firewood. The practiceleads to a significant deforestation at about 6% per year. At the meantime, peanut is amajor cash crop for the country, accounting for about 6.9% domestic GDP. Since themain export is the peanut products, the peanut shell is left behind in the villages or fields.Some efforts were made but failed to central process this bio-waste due to the limit of theinfrastructure.One engineering student in our program found these pressing problems in the Gambia inher sophomore year, when they were asked to conduct engineering ethic and sustainableengineering study. As a member of Engineering Without Border, the student and herpeers presented the problems and proposed their solutions to the faculty. That is, todevelop a device and a process that can convert the peanut shell to fuel briquettes at thevillage level. So the local people can burn the briquettes instead of the firewood forheating and cooking. According to their calculation, the peanut shell can provide up toone third of the total fuel needs of the country.The idea was supported via an EPA P3 grant. By consulting the local people and thePeace Corp volunteers in the Gambia, the students developed a series of pressing devicesand processes for the purpose. Then they compared the strength, burning rate andduration of burning of the briquettes, as well the difficulties to obtain binder and processthe material. They finally settled to an easy to follow recipe to process the peanut shellsand a very simple device to press the loose shells to briquettes.In the January of 2012, a student team went to 8 remote villages in rural Gambia. Theydemonstrated the briquetting process to the local people. The team was well received andthe seniors of all villages decided to adopt the method to preserve the dwindling forestwhile supporting the growing community.Figure 1: Left: Trees around the villages are cut for firewood. Middle: A peanut shell mountain near a Gambia town. Right: Peanut shell briquettes made by local Gambia people following our recipe and instruction.
Zhang, H., & Everett, J. W., & Tryner, J. (2013, June), Service Learning Without Borders – Turning Peanut Shells to Fuel Briquettes in the Gambia Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22449
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