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Charcoal Making Plant

1.      Production Description: Charcoal is a residue obtained when a carbonaceous material of animal or vegetable is partially burned or heated with limited access of air. It is impure form of carbon. Charcoal is produced by the process called destructive distillation. Various charcoals are given different names: coke, which is a hard, porous residue left after destructive distillation of coal, may be regarded as charcoal; while the other forms of charcoal are designated by the name of the material, such as wood, bone, blood and so on, from which they are derived. Charcoal is used for various tasks. Activated charcoals are used to absorb odorous or coloured substances from gases or liquids as in the purification of drinking water, sugar and in many other products. Other chief uses of charcoal are as blast-furnace, and cooking fuel. Charcoal, particularly wood charcoal, is also employed for miscellaneous metallurgical purposes, such as a case hardening in the manufacturing of black powder and, as a starting material in chemical synthesis.


2.      Rationale: Charcoal as described above, is a residue of vegetable or animals obtained by partial burning or heating. Charcoal has various applications in different types of important tasks. It can b used as a blast-furnace fuel, as cooking fuel, in both urban and rural areas. However, in the part of large forests in many parts of the country by unidentified (illegal) “Charcoal” (kesel) producers has been a serious problem for the government for a long time. This illegal product is sold in both rural and urban areas as cooking fuel, and for heating houses. Particularly, in the rural areas this type of charcoal (kesel) is used for making simple and tools, such as knives, axes, hammer, etc. hence, the production of charcoal by means of modern technology, as explained above (by destructive distillation and other techniques), will divert the use of “Kesel” and decrease the rate of deforestation (caused by cutting trees).


Charcoal is also widely used to absorb odorous coloured substances from liquids or gases such as in the purification of drinking water, and in numerous activities. Thus, charcoal for all these and other activities is very important since the activities are widely carried out in the Amhara Region.


3.      Market Potential: Charcoal is demanded for various tasks, such as blast-furnace, fuel, cooking fuel including out door coding and other numerous uses. Since there is no plant producing the type of charcoal, there will be sufficient market for the product in the Region as well as in other neighboring reasons.


4.      Source of material: The main raw materials for the production of charcoal are vegetable or animal by-products, such as wood by-products are bones. By-products of wood can be obtained from area where there are legal wood cutting activities for wood industries and other areas in the Region. Some additives and other chemicals needed for the production may be obtained from the domestic market, or may be imported.


5.      Production process and Technology: All types of charcoal are produced by destructive distillation process, the method which is used to convert raw materials into useful chemicals. It is a chemical change, that is, the end products, such as charcoal can be turned back into wood. The material is decomposed into volatile and non volatile fractions.


Another method of producing charcoal is to carbonize the organic material by heating it in the presence of certain solutions, such as aqueous Zink chloride or phosphoric acid which exert a dissolving action up on its pyrolysis (destructive distillation). A higher yield of charcoal obtained in the ordinary destructive distillation, which is reduced in ordinary charcoal with the utmost fidelity, may disappear completely, the resulting product having a black glassy fracture. After the impregnated charcoal has been cooled, it is extracted with water and acid to remove foreign materials and then dried.


6.      Estimated Investment Cost:  The plant will require a minimum area of 2,000 square meters, the cost of which will be about Birr 600,000 (assuming Birr 300 per square meter). The estimated cost of machinery and plant will be about Birr 3,500,00. The estimated total cost will, therefore, be about Birr 4,100,000.


7.      Benefits: Utilization of economic resources with new technology and skill. Decreasing and discouraging of the illegal cutting of trees and destruction of the forest. Creating of employment for the people in the Region. Creation of earnings for the investors (in the charcoal production) in the form of profit. Generation of revenue for the Regional Government in the form of income tax and VAT.


8.      Location: The plant may be located in places where there is an access to mass wood by- products particularly in rural areas.