A briquette is a block of flammable matter used as fuel to start and maintain a fire. They are produced from dry sawdust, rice husks, coconut shell and other Agro wastes. Usually they are in a solid and cylindrical shape, while they can also be in other shapes like hexagon shape. The conversation is done through the briquetting machine and the briquettes does not require any binding agent or chemical adhesives. Briquetted biomass can be used as a substitute for wood and coal, thereby conserving vegetal/natural wealth. Observations indicate the briquettes are very similar to wood although they do burn slower and with less/comparable intensity. The briquettes can be used as cooking fuel in hotels, boarding school/hostels, eateries and factories where boilers are used.
Briquette Production Technique
Although the importance of biomass briquettes as substitute fuel for wood, coal and lignite is well recognised, the numerous failures of briquetting machines in almost all developing countries have inhibited their extensive exploitation. Briquetting technology is yet to get a strong foothold in many developing countries, such as Nigeria, because of the technical constraints involved and the lack of knowledge to adapt the technology to suit local conditions. This was a pressing challenge for industries and formed a critical component of the support BIF provided the company. Overcoming the many operational problems associated with this technology and ensuring the quality of the raw materials used are crucial factors in determining commercial success. In addition to this commercial aspect, the importance of this technology lies in conserving wood, a commodity extensively used in northern Nigeria that has led to the widespread destruction of forests.
The Briquette Market in Northern Nigeria
With present near energy crisis, particularly in the north, there is high potential of biomass/coal briquette becoming a preferred substitute fuel for nearly all energy uses for cooking and commercial process heat. Many companies strives to provide alternative energy sources, in form of briquettes from agricultural wastes and sawdust, for cooking as its core business activity. The aim is to make available, an affordable cooking energy substitute to consumers that can easily be accessed, and also support a benign environment through stemming deforestation and reduced emission of greenhouse gas (GHG) to the atmosphere. For marketing the produced briquettes, it is imperative that the target markets, especially for urban and peri-urban consumers, be narrowed – based on the briquette’s likely degree of price competitiveness. Also, any entrepreneur could leverage on the well-established trade for transporting, stocking, wholesaling, and retailing of charcoal and wood that already exists. This is in addition to tapping into the experiences of individual entrepreneurs who have accumulated the expertise, financial capital, and equipment necessary to participate in the business.