Activated Carbon, Electricity (5 MW) and Eucalyptus Oil, Near Completion

Activated Carbon, Electricity (5 MW) and Eucalyptus Oil, Near Completion
Enecon Pty Ltd, Australia, September 2005

From the Enercon web site:


Charcoal is currently used world-wide in two main applications - as a cooking fuel and as a reductant in various metallurgical industries. As with activated carbon, charcoal made from wood competes with char made from coal, lignite and peat. All these products come in a range of grades and costs according to quality.

The world market for wood-based charcoal is extensive. For example:

  • Consumption of charcoal in the USA was reported as more than 700,000 tonne/year in the mid 80's.
  • Consumption of charcoal for cooking in Japan was almost 200,000 tonne/year in the early 90's. A significant part of this market was met by imports.
  • Brazil is the world's largest charcoal user, consuming millions of tonnes each year of locally produced charcoal in the domestic steel industry.
  • In Australia and elsewhere wood charcoal is used as a reductant in the manufacture of silicon metal. A typical silicon smelter may use 30,000 tonnes of charcoal each year in this way.

Charcoal characteristics vary according to feed material and processing. Charcoal contains fixed carbon, volatiles, water and ash in varying quantities, and any comparison of yields from different manufacturing processes needs to include an understanding of product composition. As with activated carbon manufacture, knowledge of the "big picture" - market requirements, feed availability and characteristics, energy needs and preferred project size - is needed for a thorough evaluation of any new charcoal manufacturing project.


There is considerable interest world wide in a “new” application for charcoal; that is adding it to soil to achieve improved soil quality for plant growth and at the same time sequester carbon for greenhouse gas benefits. This technique was used many years ago (the “terra preta” soils in South America) and is now the subject of extensive research and some large-scale trials.

As with other uses for charcoal, the feed material and the method of processing can affect the characteristics and cost of the charcoal produced. For example, small-scale production using a waste such as chicken litter may capture the nutrients in the feed and help to dispose of a waste material where it is available. Alternatively, large-scale fast pyrolysis for liquid fuels makes charcoal as a co-product and the cost of the charcoal may be offset by economies of scale and the ability to sell other high-value products. Although they contain different levels of nutrients and fixed carbon, both these charcoals have been demonstrated as improving soil productivity.

Enecon has experience with charcoal manufacture via a range of technologies, including kilns, gasifiers and fluidised beds. We can determine the best technology for your particular feed material or product application and then assist with the design and construction of a new plant for producing charcoal and energy, or simply producing charcoal.

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