Tag Archives: alternative fuel technology

Volunteers Make LOTS of Briquettes with Cecile

We’ve been sharing with you this week what volunteers from Simpson College in the USA have been doing to help AoC and our partners in Rwanda. Mornings have been spent working with our Primary 5 students in the classrooms. Afternoons include assisting Cecile, our briquette producer partner.

Tiffany and Arron from Simpson College help Cecile.  AoC 2011Volunteers Arron and Tiffany at the press with the recycled material mixture making briquettes.

Innocent, AoC’s alternative cooking fuel consultant, and Cecile provided great training. By the end of the week, Simpson volunteers had made over 1000 briquettes. Cecile did not want them to leave her side!

Ceclie's daughter Monique carries briquettes to the drying table.  AoC 2011Monique, Cecile’s daughter, collects the pressed briquettes and carries them to a drying table. Innocent is here at the press.

Cecile’s Sign Goes Up!
Simpson students put finishing touches to Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette workshop located along the Kinigi Road which takes you to Volcanoes National Park. Artist Chad Robertson designed Cecile’s logo. Thanks Chad! Eric and Eusbe transferred his design onto metal signage.

Cecile's new briquette sign and Simpson College volunteers.  AoC 2011Volunteers with Professor Virginia Croskery and Innocent.

Now Cecile has a surplus of briquettes and a sign that shows people where to find her… so come on people, stamp out charcoal UES BRIQUETTES!!!!

Chad Robertson’s Artistry

Artist Chad Robertson, a painter in Los Angeles, has donated his time and talent to Art of Conservation over the past few years for which we are grateful. He updated the AoC logo, then created the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club logos, and today we unveil his Save The Forests Briquette Initiative logo. (Please click here for previous blogs on Chad’s work with AoC.)

Cecile, our briquette producer partner, runs AoC’s alternative cooking fuel initiative. I already know Cecile will outstretch her arms and begin dancing when I show here the new logo. Eric and Eusebe will begin replicating Chad’s logo on metal for Cecile to place a sign in front of her workshop to advertise her briquette business.

New logo for our briquette initiative by artist Chad Robertson.  AoC 2011.New logo!

I’ve come to see that in Chad’s approach to making art that perhaps there is a likeness to our small efforts in deterring charcoal production and combatting deforestation. Chad immerses himself in all kinds of modern technology in his creative approach. Then he dissects himself and his thoughts to the more basic forms of technology. Somewhat by default due to lack of electricity and economic conditions, the briquettes made from composted materials, pressed by hand, and set out to dry in the sun, symbolizes a stripped down approach getting in touch with the basics while creating new ideas and perhaps finding solutions.

Briquettes are not the solution to ending deforestation and the exploitation of natural resources or stopping the demise of Earth’s magnificent endangered animals, but this initiative is generating income for Cecile and her family who live near Volcanoes National Park and is inspiring proaction as opposed to complacency. At least we are trying. And thank goodness people like Chad are creating art. I hope more people open their eyes to the beauty and destruction around us all and examine how things work – be it modern or traditional.

Keep doing what you are doing, Chad. Thanks so much for your help.
Please click here to go to Chad’s website.

Children Helping Children In Conservation

Hello, Valerie here. Another working weekend for Team AoC as we deliver a new class to the Ibirunga Tennis & Running kids. Topic of the day, conservation of the mountain gorilla habitat and more specifically an introduction to the alternative cooking fuel briquettes. After Innocent has engaged the kids into thoughtful and wonderful discussion, we head to Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette Initiative workshop which is about a 15 minute drive from Musanze Town. Upon our arrival at Cecile’s, I notice the tennis kids become very excited and very curious about the process of making briquettes.

Valerie and Pisi and tennis kids at Save The Forests Briquette Initiative in Kinigi Rwanda.  AoC 2011.Pisi and I learn how to sift the sawdust that Cecile has collected from local carpenter shops and which is a major component of the briquette mixture – along with water and recycled paper.

Making briquettes is not done by just one person. It involves team work. To ensure that each child gets a chance to experience the different tasks, children work in a rotation. When someone is handling the PVC tube another is at the press handle and yet another must be ready to receive the pressed briquettes as they are ready to be pulled out of the tube. And while all of this is going on, someone is making the organic compost mixture ready!

Learning from each other.  Art of Conservation 2011Ndagijimana, Cecile’s son who participated in AoC’s education program last year, helps tennis player Evariste manage the PVC tube which contains the briquette mixture: water, recycled paper, and sawdust.

Ndagijimana has watched his mother, Cecile, make briquettes and now he has become an excellent briquetter. He’s fast, too. The tennis kids benefit from Ndagijimana’s expertise and instruction. For me, I am touched by seeing this process of children helping other children. And especially working together on things that are so important and beneficial to people and the environment.

Tennis player Habibo at the briquette press. Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  Art of Conservation 2011.Habibu, ranked number one on the Ibirunga Tennis Team, is happy to be making briquettes.

As all of us know when we try something new we may not always produce a perfect result at first. The children see for themselves that some of the briquettes they’ve made are too big or are too small or uneven or just not right. Innocent suggests corrections and encourages them to try some more. After all, we learn from our mistakes.

At Save The Forests Briquette Initiative in Kinigi, Rwanda.  AoC 2011In this photo, Innocent critiques the new briquetters’ work. Are the briquettes the correct size? Are they made evenly?

The Musanze Town tennis kids are very happy to meet Ndagijimana. Now, they claim, they will strive to be as great of a briquetter as he is. They invite Ndagijimana to the tennis courts so that they can also teach him a new skill…. tennis!

Inside Cecile's greenhouse at Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  Art of Conservation 2011.It starts raining so some of the children run inside Cecile’s greenhouse and help her arrange her drying briquettes.

Cecile’s At It Again – Save The Forests Briquettes

Hi. This is Innocent with more briquette demonstration news. This time we are at Nyange (Primary and Secondary) School. The teachers are more receptive and interested than those at Rushubi Primary School and we have a great time during the demonstration.

Before the teachers come into the classroom where the demo is taking place we get busy setting it up and preparing the stoves and the cooking materials we will need.

Save The Forests Briquette Initiative demonstration.  Cecile, Valerie, and Innocent. AoC 2011Cecile, Valerie and I setting up the materials for the demo in the classroom. We have the stoves, the briquettes and some two cooking pots ready to go.

The teachers come in on time, and once Cecile explains to them what briquettes are and the role they play in saving the forests, the teachers immediately like the whole initiative. They ask questions, examine the briquettes and the stoves and eventually some decide they will stop buying charcoal immediately and start using briquettes. I hope they mean it.

Cecile taking questions from interested teachers at Nyange Primary and Secondary School. Art of Conservation's Save The Forests Briquette Initiative. 2011The Nyange School teachers examine the medium-lined briquette stove and ask numerous questions.

Some of the teachers who are interested in buying the briquettes talk to Cecile and exchange phone numbers so they can place their orders. Some of them buy the briquettes immediately and Cecile has them delivered to them by the end of the day.

How long does it take to cook at pot of rice?  Save the Forests Briquette demonstration.  AoC 2011Cecile exchanges phone numbers with the interested teachers.

There is a lively discussion as the demo continues on with Cecile and I answering questions and listening to suggestions.

Cecile & Innocent-pleased with their partnership!!!  Save the Forest Briquette Initiative.  Art of Conservation RWANDA 2011Cecile and I are very pleased with the way the demo is going. The teachers are very enthusiastic about this briquettes initiative.

Just as we did at Rushubi Primary School, we have a pot of water on one stove and a pot of rice on the other stove which we time. It takes about 7 minutes to boil two liters of water and 12 minutes to cook rice for two people.

Briquette demonstration at Nyange Primary School with the school's teachers. ApC 2011. One of the teachers is very happy with the results of the demo: fully cooked rice. This makes lunch for some primary school kids.

Briquette Demo Video! Starring Cecile, Innocent, & Valerie!

In the previous blog, Innocent shared with us his plea to the government run school in which we work at to PLEASE consider using our alternative cooking fuel option instead of firewood and charcoal as the school begins preparing and providing teacher’s – and eventually student’s – cooked meals. Here is a quick video of the demonstration. Hope you enjoy.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/J1mNe_uCIb8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]Cecile & Innocent’s Briquette Demonstration at Rushubi Primary School, Rwanda.

School To Be Charcoal Free?

Hi. Innocent here again with more briquette news.

Recently, AoC held a briquette demonstration at Rushubi Primary School for the school’s staff members. We are trying to convince them to adapt the briquettes as a source of fuel, rather than firewood and/or charcoal which they are currently using. The demonstration began with Cecile and I setting up two stoves, one on which we boiled water, and the other on which we cooked rice.

We had one of the teachers time the stoves, keeping track of how long it took to boil the water/ cook the rice.

Innocent & Cecile at briquette demonstration.  Rushubi Primary School, Kinigi, Rwanda.  Art of Conservation 2011Cecile and I lighting the stoves during the demonstration.

The teachers arrived late and did not look very interested in the demonstration. However, when the stoves were well lit, and the briquettes were burning well with little or no smoke, they stood up to get a closer look. The stoves burned with good efficiency, the water boiled in five minutes! Almost comparable to gas, but definitely better than charcoal.

The rice took about 11 minutes, and it made lunch for one happy teacher.

Rushubi teachers begin to get more interested and ask questions.  Art of Conservation and Cecile briquette demonstration.  2011 RWANDATeachers finally showing a lot of interest in the briquettes, asking questions and a few said they were completely convinced and would buy the briquettes soon. Let’s hope they keep their word.

A few students from the school who were supposed to go home for lunch stayed for the demonstration. Julie taught them a slogan: Stamp out charcoal, use briquettes! We’ll be giving AoC students at the school a briquette demonstration in our ongoing discussion of protecting the environment and the Volcanoes National Park.

Discussion continues after demo between the school's director, teachers, and Cecile. Art of Conservation, 2011.The briquette discussion continues after the demonstration with the school’s director, teachers, and Cecile.

With rumors about schools needing to supply lunches to the students, AoC and Cecile are trying to get ahead of the game by convincing the schools to use fuel briquettes. We will keep you informed on Save the Forests Briquette Initiative.

Save the Forests Briquette Initiative Demonstration at Valerie’s House

We had a very successful demonstration of how briquettes work at Valerie’s house on Sunday (16th January). Valerie had borrowed benches from a nearby church and asked the elders to spread the message to the people in her neighbourhood to come for a demonstration on this alternative source of fuel.

Briquettes are made from sawdust and waste paper, hence recycling paper to save our environment. They are also an alternative to charcoal and if the local community starts using briquettes, it will be quite an achievement in our conservation efforts and a positive step towards protecting our forests.

Valerie, Innocent, Eric, Olivier and I were there to represent AoC. Cecile and Immaculate, who make the briquettes, were there too. The turnout was large and we began by welcoming them and explaining to them what briquettes are and how they are related to the conservation efforts.

Save the Forests Briquette Initiative demonstration in Valerie's village. AoC 2011. Innocent and Valerie explaining about briquettes to an attentive audience.

Once we had the crowd’s attention, we showed them how to light and start a fire using briquettes. We had two stoves, and just as we did on Wednesday we put an equal amount of water in two cooking pots (isafuriya) and let it boil. The crowd (mostly women and a few children) watched as the stoves worked efficiently, comparable to a charcoal stove.

Interested neighbors at Valerie's house for briquette demonstration. AoC 2011.Interested neighbours watch as the stoves are lit.

When the water boiled, rice was put in to cook and they continued explaining to the audience how it all works, patiently answering all their questions.

At the demonstration - a nicely cooked pot of rice. Rwanda AoC 2011.Fully cooked rice, yummy!

At the end of it all was the sale. The initial offering price of a sack of briquettes was Rwandan francs 5000, comparable to a sack of charcoal. To motivate the buyers, a free stove was given if the person bought a sack.

We actually sold all the briquettes we had! And in addition, took orders for more!

Cecile made money - amafaranga!- Sunday's demonstration at Valerie's house. Rwanda AoC 2011.Innocent receiving money from the sale of briquettes while Olivier records the goings-on, including orders for more briquettes.

Testing of Briquette Stoves

Since AoC classes have not yet begun, we have spent this week preparing for the classes and finishing any work pending from last year. You know those annual reports that have to be prepared, and the action plans for the coming year?

The 2010 quarterly reports are coming along nicely and they should be done by next week. They’re interesting to work on, but can also be a bit…er… involving so once in a while I take a break to smile at Ibyiza.

Ibyiza (Biza) & Harriet working on quarterly reports. AoC 2011. Ibyiza and I during the break.

On Thursday morning, we held a test of the briquette stoves at AoC (they’ll be displayed to the rest of the neighbourhood on Sunday). We put an equal amount of water in each of the cooking pots and waited to see which one will boil the water fastest.

Testing stoves at Art of Conservation House, Musanze - Rwanda. 2011.Innocent, Valerie, Olivier and Jan happy with their stoves. Each is betting their stove is the fastest, though Valerie’s (the black stove) was the more efficient one.

This particular stove is one of the many being experimented on so that we can arrive at the most efficient briquette stove.

And yet another alternative cooking fuel stove to experiment with.  AoC 2010 Rwanda A different kind of stove.

Valerie (the other Val, I’d say the white Val but I don’t want to be accused of being a racist 🙂 ) also brought her rocket stove for the test and it turns out it may need a few more modifications before it can achieve maximum efficiency.

Valerie V. testing out her rocket stove.  Art of Conservation Rwanda 2011. Valerie and her rocket stove.

We hope the local community will realize the importance of using the alternative fuel (briquettes) and we’re hoping to demonstrate that it actually works and may be more efficient than charcoal come Sunday afternoon.

I think the week has been a success and we hope to do more next week.

When Harriet Met Cecile

Hi everyone, it’s Harriet again.

On my second day at work (Wednesday), I got started on some documents and learned that there would be an exhibition of briquettes on Thursday morning. One name that is always mentioned whenever briquettes are uttered is Cecile. Who is Cecile, I wondered? Well, she is the one who makes briquettes.

I was very eager to meet her; I’d already read about her story from earlier blog posts: she attended the briquette’s conference in Tanzania last year with Innocent.

So in the evening, Julie, Innocent and I drove up to her place… it’s on the way to Volcanoes National Park. We were going to pick up sacks of briquettes for the exhibition on Thursday.

Driving on Kinigi Road to Cecile's briquette workshop.

Briquettes are an alternative source of fuel, so instead of using charcoal (which as we all know contributes to deforestation), briquettes are made from recycled paper. Waste paper from industries, institutions etc is all mixed with water, sawdust and then left to cool for a while. (Cool here is used very loosely…more like ferment for a day or two). The mixture looks like this:

The Gooey Mixture that is paper, sawdust and water

The Gooey Mixture that is paper, sawdust and water

From there, it’s pressed into discs (briquettes) and left to dry…then about 250 briquettes are packed into one sack.

Harriet asking tons of questions about briquettes. Art of Conservation - Rwanda. Innocent explaining to me how briquettes are made, with the help of Cecile.

Cecile, Innocent, and Harriet.  Cecile's greenhouse.  Rwanda. Cecile (wearing Kagame’s campaign t-shirt), Innocent and I are very happy with our sacks of briquettes. Can you make out what’s written on the sacks? No? Save the Forest Briquette Initiative. Now look again.

Julie and Innocent - one big sack of briquettes.  Art of Conservation - Rwanda.Julie, Innocent and one sack of briquettes

Cecile has a very beautiful cow, Spotty. Well, that’s not her name but don’t you think it’s fitting? There was this kid there who was playing with a machete, cutting up pieces of banana stems into smaller and smaller parts. It’s a miracle he didn’t cut himself.

Child and Cow.  Art of Conservation - Rwanda 2011.

Innocent in Arusha, Part 4 of Briquette Conference

Hi all, this is Innocent again reporting on the Legacy Foundation’s Biomass Briquette Producers’ Conference that Cecile, Immaculee, Ernest and I recently attended in Tanzania. Today’s blog, Part 4, is the last in a series, but I will continue sharing with you about our briquette initiative.

After listening to everyones presentations and after technology demonstrations we broke into groups to discuss marketing, quality and standardization, and planning for the formation of an Africa wide Briquette Producers Network.
Photo (c) Peter Stanley.Photo courtesy of Peter Stanley. Group discussions.

So now, in closing, I want to thank everyone again for the support and information sharing. I especially want to thank Joyce and Richard Stanley, Lisa from Community Forest International, Vicki from Sariko Olasiti Garden Lodge, Ziria, Drannan, Flavia, Paulin, Wazee Maombe and Charles and Ali.

Immaculee, Joyce, and Cecile in Tanzania.  AoC 2010.MGVP’s Immaculee with Joyce and Cecile.

Photo (c) Peter Stanley.Photo courtesy of Peter Stanley. The Briquetters!