DOST’s bambooo charcoal technology helps Pangasinan firm in bamboo charcoal making

In a bid to boost their town’s economy, a company based in Bayambang, Pangasinan is set to go into large-scale charcoal making using bamboo. CS First Green Agri-Industrial Development made the decision after one year of piloting various machines from the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).

“We pilot-tested four kinds of equipment: the DOST-FPRDI bamboo charcoaling kiln, hydraulic briquettor, crusher, and drum kiln,” says Levin Uy, company president. “Using bamboo wastes from our own plantations, we found that these technologies truly help create jobs, and can help Bayambang build a thriving bamboo industry.”

Uy adds that their sister organization, the Kasama Kita sa Barangay Foundation, has found the drum kiln especially useful for making charcoal using solid waste collected from the barangays.

According to DOST-FPRDI’s Engr. Amando Allan Bondad, “The bamboo charcoaling kiln is a special kind of oven that turns out high quality charcoal for industrial uses. The drum kiln, hydraulic briquettor and crusher, on other hand, are used for creating charcoal briquettes – solid charcoal which is easier to ignite, burns slower, and emits more steady heat than the ordinary kind.”

The charcoaling kiln generates two products: high quality bamboo charcoal and industrial vinegar or pyroligneous liquor. A powerful cleaning agent, bamboo charcoal is widely used in industries to purify many kinds of substances – water, air, precious metals, alcoholic beverages, among others. It is also widely tapped in agriculture, and in pharmaceutics and cosmetics manufacturing.

Industrial vinegar, on the other hand, is a high-end product that comes from the kiln’s collected and condensed smoke. In demand abroad especially in Japan, it serves as a disinfectant, bathroom deodorizer, and organic pesticide. It is commonly used in the medicine, cosmetics, and food processing industries.

Engr. Belen B. Bisana, chief of DOST-FPRDI’s Bio-Energy and Equipment Development Section, says, “We are happy to work with a company that has its own bamboo plantation. Bamboo is not yet popularly used for charcoal in the Philippines, but it is an ideal material since it grows fast and can be re-harvested without harming the environment. The part of the plant that is used is the stem base, which is usually left behind after the poles are harvested.”

According to Uy, “One year of field testing with DOST-FPRDI was encouraging to us. We saw the Institute’s capacity to give good technical assistance, as well as the potential of bamboo in boosting the progress of our community. We look forward to getting to know other bamboo processing technologies which may prove useful to us.”

The piloting of the bamboo charcoaling kiln was part of the recently concluded project “High Quality Charcoal from Bamboo for Industrial Uses.” It was funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD). (Rizalina K. Araral, S&T Media Service)