Large clouds of smoke over the forests. Black clouds that cover the branches of the trees. Every year, vast amounts of crop and forest residues are burned. An incredible problem for the environment. But what if it were possible to create fuel from nature’s waste?
That’s the question Indian startup Takachar has been asking itself, and it wants to tackle this problem using a small, portable system. Their technology aims to turn agricultural waste into marketable bioproducts – all thanks to “torrefaction.”
The so-called torrefaction is a thermochemical reaction that occurs in the absence of oxygen at temperatures above 200 degrees. The waste is decomposed in the process, producing charcoal and torrefied biomass. These can then be used as fertilizer or fuel.
The method can therefore not only protect the environment, but also generate a profit through the sale of the new products. The startup was inspired by the French roasting of coffee beans. Here, too, the biomass is roasted and decomposed in the absence of oxygen.
The company’s method of doing this is nothing new, but until now it was not possible for farmers to use torrefaction because the analogs were too large and too expensive. Takachar’s handy system aims to change that. The company has already been able to test the functionality in a pilot program in Kenya, where fuel derived from rice residues has been sold to over 5,000 farmers.
The startup is already receiving some attention and was also among the winners of last month’s Eco-Oscars, which was launched by Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.