Turning Rotten Bananas into Bricks of Fuel

#sustainability #environment #food #waste

In a world where food waste is a much bigger problem than packaging waste (and indeed a problem that packaging helps alleviate), although the following article is not strictly packaging, we thought that it would be of interest to you all (we certainly found it so).

June 22, 2009 Source: www.Earthfirst.com (& www.bbc.co.uk)

In some African countries, like Rwanda, bananas are plentiful – and so are their discarded peels. But one thing that’s not plentiful is affordable fuel for cooking, lighting and heating. Researchers at Nottingham University have found a way to use the resources that are available by turning rotten banana peels into briquettes that would not only provide fuel but also help reduce deforestation by limiting reliance on firewood.


From BBC News:

According to scientists, for every one tonne of bananas, there are an estimated 10 tonnes of waste, made up of skins, leaves and stems.

It was on a visit to Rwanda that Joel Chaney, a PhD student from the University of Nottingham came up with the idea of developing a low-tech approach to turn this banana waste into an efficient fuel source.

Back in the laboratory at the University’s faculty of engineering, Joel showed me how to make bananas burn.

He first mashes a pile of rotting skins and leaves. This pulp is then mixed with saw dust, compressed and dried to create briquettes that ignite readily and throw out a steady heat, ideal for cooking.

“The banana skins bind other materials together really well, they act like glue,” says Mr Chaney.

“We can then either form the material into a ball by hand, or use a press to squeeze the materials together and squeeze the liquid out.

“Once we’ve pressed them we can lay the briquettes outside in the sun, and within about two weeks we have some dried fuel.”

This fuel source is ideal for third world conditions because the briquettes can be made by hand, without any mechanical equipment. Using banana briquettes as fuel would help countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi keep forests intact. These countries currently rely on firewood for 80% of their fuel needs.

We are really blown away by the creativity and innovation that is happening right now in the alternative fuel industry. Add rotten bananas to the list of amazingly unexpected fuel sources that might collectively help us exit the age of reliance on fossil fuels.





  1. manuel says:

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