Mutare inventor turns sawdust into solid fuel


MUTARE – A self-taught Mutare inventor is processing sawdust from timber mills into valuable, clean-burning briquettes that are a clean alternative to coal and firewood.

He hopes to stop timber-rich Mutare’s balding environs and burn-up enough of its sawdust menace to ease Environmental Management Agency (Ema)’s headaches.

Godfrey Mudariki has invested in sawdust stoves and sawdust briquettes in a bid to stop power outage-induced deforestation around the eastern border city and get rid of growing mountains of sawdust.

The sawdust is  highly-compacted to create wood briquettes which are the best alternative of coal.

They can be used in both industrial furnaces and domestic solid-fuel stoves.

Mudariki’s sawdust briquettes are great to use as they provide a virtually smokeless, long-lasting and hot fire.

Kingstone Chitotombe, Ema provincial manager, estimates that more than 50 percent of Manicaland’s waste could be flattened if locals support Mudariki’s two environmental interventions.

Chitotombe expressed hope that Mudariki’s inventions could be the panacea to the sawdust management problem that had them on their wit’s end.

“In the past we had been struggling with sawdust… they don’t decompose and if their heap catches fire, it can burn for more than a year,” Chitotombe said.

“We produce more than 80 percent of timber in Zimbabwe and sawdust constitutes more than 50 percent of all the waste generated in Manicaland.”

Mudariki was recently given a $20 000 loan to produce 1 000 of his patented sawdust stoves by the ministry of Science and Technology.

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He says he is also using part of the loan to develop a cheeky innovative sawdust-powered tobacco barn.

“I would like to engage with Zesa (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) to distribute the stoves as a fall back to when there are either power outages or when households run out of electricity instead of people cutting down trees,” Mudariki said.

With a stock pile of his B0B (Bachelor Zero Budget) stoves in his storeroom, Mudariki hopes that Zesa will agree to distribute the $25 stoves to residents in a flexible credit scheme.

Mudariki also hopes that the sawdust-powered tobacco drying barns which are still being developed would also go a long way in easing the tobacco industry’s environmental burden.

The commercial entity has a single biomass briquette maker which the manager, Jack Faranera says can produce 400 kg of briquettes per hour.

Already, they have tonnes of the briquettes which offer a cheaper alternative to firewood apart from a more environmentally-friendly alternative.

“The briquettes produce more intense heat with very little smoke if any. A 30 centimetre briquette can also last more than three hours,” Faranera said.

Alice Chivese, Ema’s education and publicity officer said finding alternative use for sawdust could be welcome to sawmillers as they are charged for producing this wood chip waste.

“Ema bills sawmills quarterly for sawdust they produce by weight and these projects could help them manage the burden they present to them,” Chivese said.

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