The main raw material in charcoal production has always been fuel wood, however currently wood supply has become limited therefore various forestry, and agricultural residues that are unused have proved to be crucial raw materials of charcoal production. Charcoal is produced through the method of pyrolysis of biomass. Pyrolysis is an irreversible chemical change that arises as a result of heating biomass in the absence of oxygen (Strezov, 2008). The biomass underwent a series of change that results in the production of charcoal. Production of charcoal through pyrolysis is conducted in the process of low temperatures and slows heating a process known as carbonization. The advantage of making use of charcoal instead of wood is to eliminate water and other components that facilitate charcoal to burn at high temperatures. Because the result of its combustion produces carbon dioxide, which results in the production of little smoke.
Traditionally charcoal was made by piling wood logs leaning against a chimney. The logs were then covered with straw and soil hindering air from entering. It was then lit by the introduction of burning fuel at the chimney after which the wood burnt slowly for at least five days and transformed into charcoal. After the complete burning of the wood, the chimney was covered to prevent air from entering to facilitate cooling. The main art of this method of production lies in managing enough heat generation thus transforming wood parts through the process of carbonization (Singhal, et al 2008). The main disadvantage of this process was that it led to the high amount of emissions that were harmful to the human health and the environment. Due to the partial burning of wood in charcoal production, the traditional method seemed less efficient. The modern methods of charcoal production use the retorting technology whereby heat is solely provided and recovered by turning of gases produced during the carbonization. The production of retorting technology is relatively high than that of the kiln and may reach up to 35 to 40% in production (Rosler, et al 2012). The characteristics of charcoal produced are dependent on the materials burnt. Charcoal have varying quantities of oxygen, hydrogen and other impurities that help in the determination of charcoal properties.
Types of charcoal
There are various types of charcoal that include. Common charcoal and this is the charcoal made from wood coal and coconut. Sugar charcoal, this is the charcoal obtained from carbonization of sugar and is mainly pure since it is purified through boiling with acids to remove any remaining mineral matter. Activated charcoal, this charcoal is similar to the activated charcoal but purposely made for medical use. To produce activated charcoal, the common charcoal is heated through gases that cause charcoal to develop many internal pores. Extruded charcoal, this is charcoal that is made by extruding the raw ground wood into logs without using a binder. The pressure and heat of the extruding process bind the charcoal together.
Uses of charcoal
Charcoal has been used for a long time for various factors that range from art to medicine and as fuel. Various use of charcoal as the fuel include first metallurgical fuel, and this refers to the use of fuel for blacksmith purposes and other application where a high amount of heat is needed. For example, charcoal was used in the Roman times in the production of iron while currently charcoal is used for steel production. Secondly automotive fuel, this refers to the use of charcoal to produce various syngas compositions. Syngas is mainly used as fuel for automotive propulsion. In cases of scarcity in petroleum, the automobiles have been forced to convert to burning wood gas that is produced through combustion of charcoal for example in 1931 tabling Chongming had developed an automobile that was propelled by the use of charcoal (Emrich, 2013). Thirdly, cooking fuel, before the industrial revolution, charcoal was used as cooking fuel, for example, the current charcoal briquettes that are mainly used for outdoor cooking are made of charcoal but may also use coal as a source of energy.
Use of charcoal for art purposes
Charcoal is mainly used for art proposes in the art in drawing, and making rough sketches in painting and also acts as one of the media for creating a parse mage. The artist mainly uses charcoal in three forms that include vine charcoal that is created by burning sticks and vines, powdered charcoal that is particularly used for covering the large sections of a drawing surface, and compressed charcoal, which consists of charcoal powder, mixed with gum binder and compressed into square stalks.
Use of charcoal as medicine
Charcoal was previously used in the past as dietary supplements mainly due to the gastric issues whereby it was taken in the form of charcoal biscuits. Currently, charcoal is taken as tablets or capsules due to the digestive problems. For example, the red Columbus monkey has been seen to consume charcoal for reasons of self-medication since the leafy diet they take tend to have a high amount of cyanide that may trigger indigestion. Consumption of charcoal helps in absorption of cyanide gas and triggers digestion. This study will focus on the contribution of industrial production of charcoal to both the technological and economic progress
Industrial production of charcoal significantly contributes to the economic and technology sectors in the United States of America. Economically, the production has implicated the lives of many people in the country. First, there is the creation of employment. Production of charcoal involves a lot of various processes that require an application of workforce. The individuals living within or around the factories and areas where charcoal is produced provide the workforce required in these processes (Kabir, 2010). Some of these practices include extraction of raw materials from the forests in the form of trees to make logs. Preparing the logs to be burned and packing of the charcoal ready to be distributed to the consumers among other tasks. In addition, employment is created in the market as the retailers sell the products to the customers. Hence, this improves the living standards of these people of which they can take care of their financial needs.
Second, the industrial production provides revenue to the federal and state governments. The factories and individuals involved in the various phases of production are required to pay tax to the governments. It economically enhances the performance of the governments in managing the states and the country because it provides capital that is used in funding various development projects aimed at improving the lives of the citizens and other residents. For instance, the revenue collected through the production of charcoal can be utilized in the development of infrastructure and other amenities such as hospitals and transport sectors. Relatively, these projects require the application of workforce; hence, the production will have indirectly contributed to the creation of jobs in the country.
Third, domestic charcoal production reduces the costs of importation of fuel from foreign countries. It provides some of the energy required in homes and industries of which is cheaper than other fuels such as gas and electricity. For instance, some people utilize charcoal at home to warm their houses during cold seasons (Bailis, et al 2013). Considering that industrial production of charcoal is cheaper than electricity, consumers can acquire it a lower price; therefore, they can save money to cater for other financial needs. Additionally, the reduced cost enhances the development of economic projects in the country because charcoal production is budget friendly and extra funds utilized on other activities.
The contribution of industrial production of charcoal to technological progress
Charcoal production highly affected the technological progress in various ways that include. First, charcoal was used as the main source of energy whereby it was used in many production sectors to operate machinery for example in factories such as the steel industry they used charcoal as their main source of energy to propel machines since it was a cheaper method of production (Agirre, et al 2013). However, in the transport sector, they also used charcoal in the train industry whereby charcoal was burnt to produce syngas which facilitated in train transport industry. Charcoal was considered an effective source of energy due to its effectiveness, and it was a cheaper method of energy production.
Secondly, industrial production of charcoal contributed indirectly to the production of other machinery that facilitated in charcoal production; such machines include the power saws. In the past, people used axes in the cutting of trees to be used for charcoal production but with time, the development of other machines such as power saws mad charcoal production more effective since such machine made the process of charcoal production more quickly. The power saw machine reduced the time spent in the cutting of the wood to be used in charcoal production. Additionally, there was the invention of other means of charcoal production such as the use of sawdust to produce charcoal this was due to the continued scarcity of wood.
Since the past, Production of charcoal has been effective contributed to both the economic and technological progress. In the case of economic progress, it has led to the creation of employment; it led to the generation of revenue and led to the reduction of cost of oil importation. In technological progress charcoal was used as a main source of energy and also contributed indirectly to the production of other machinery such as the power saw. However, the charcoal production also led to other effects such as increased rates of deforestation which led to weather deterioration and climate change. Increased deforestation led to the reduction in woods used for charcoal production, which led to the use of the by-products of wood such as sawdust to produce charcoal.
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Bailis, R., Rujanavech, C., Dwivedi, P., de Oliveira Vilela, A., Chang, H., & de Miranda, R. C. (2013). Innovation in charcoal production: A comparative life-cycle assessment of two kiln technologies in Brazil. Energy for sustainable development, 17(2), 189-200.
Emrich, W. (2013). Handbook of charcoal making: The traditional and industrial methods (Vol. 7). Springer Science & Business Media.
Kabir, E., Kim, K. H., Ahn, J. W., Hong, O. F., & Sohn, J. R. (2010). Barbecue charcoal combustion as a potential source of aromatic volatile organic compounds and carbonyls. Journal of hazardous materials, 174(1-3), 492-499.
Rosler, H., Bonisch, E., Schopper, F., Raab, T., & Raab, A. (2012). Pre-industrial charcoal production in southern Brandenburg and its impact on the environment. Landscape Archaeology between Art and Science, 167-178.
Strezov, V., Evans, T. J., & Hayman, C. (2008). Thermal conversion of elephant grass (Pennisetum Purpureum Schum) to bio-gas, bio-oil and charcoal. Bioresource technology, 99(17), 8394-8399.
Singhal, R. S., Kennedy, J. F., Gopalakrishnan, S. M., Kaczmarek, A., Knill, C. J., & Akmar, P. F. (2008). Industrial production, processing, and utilization of sago palm-derived products. Carbohydrate polymers, 72(1), 1-20....
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