How the Project Began
A portable stove that converts sticks into clean-burning gas and saleable activated charcoal, while boiling/sterilising water using heat otherwise wasted.
We developed this stove at the turn of the century, to address a shortage of fuel-wood and charcoal for employees of our family business in Kenya. We also needed to find a cheap and reliable way of filtering drinking water from our only water source – the local river. This concept solved both problems. It produced clean energy, was very economical and made excellent activated carbon for use in water filters. All this from forest litter; there was no need to chop down any trees.
The original stoves had to be easily manufactured locally from readily available materials. Adding a water jacket allowed us to use galvanised sheet that would otherwise have burnt through. The combustion chamber was simply a trench in the ground.
Producing saleable activated charcoal as a by-product can generate valuable income for families. The charcoal can either be burnt as a fuel or used to make sterile water filters that effectively remove most organic compounds, including bacteria. These filters produce crystal clear water without any need to pre-wash the charcoal. Even water heavily contaminated with soap and detergent is taste and odour free after filtration. As shown in the illustration above, filters can be made very cheaply from a variety of readily available containers.
(Times were taken from when the fire was lit. All figures were from the same trial. )
The concept works just as effectively scaled up, so we made bigger versions for a community kitchen.
Our stoves produced plenty of biochar for filtering water. In fact we made so much charcoal, we also developed a stove to burn it!
Over a decade later, with more climate awareness, we now mix any surplus charcoal with soil, to capture the carbon.
All the water we drink is filtered using the charcoal we produce!
Click on photos for descriptions
Sign up to become an active part of our project; follow us on social media for frequent updates and get involved by purchasing your own biocharBBQ.