In 2016, we started our cooperation with the private waste management company COPED in Rwanda, Central Africa. They enabled us to carry out experiments with our new pyrolysis system on their property. Thereby we became aware of the local farmer cooperatives. It was a fortunate coincidence that one of these farmer cooperatives established the contact between Leonidas, the founder and owner of DEYI Ltd., and us. Ever since Leonidas is our exceptionally motivated and dedicated partner.
DEYI Ltd., based in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, produces so-called mushroom tubes and sells them to small farmers in the region. The mushroom tubes basically consist of a pressed nutrient medium made of organic waste (e.g. rice husks or straw) and fungal spores in it. After the farmers have inserted the tubes into their fields, the mushrooms grow out of the tubes and can be harvested afterwards. After a single mushroom harvest, the tubes contain less nutrients and have been thrown away. We have found out that these mushroom tubes can be used in our pyrolysis system and processed into biochar.
During our cooperation from November 2016 until today we made five journeys to Kigali to realise our project.
DEYI Ltd. has produced more than 300 kg of biochar from fungal tubes so far. Leonidas and his colleagues were able to sell the first 20 kg at a price that is usual for conventional coal. Due to the worse burning properties and the high ash content of mushroom tube coal, sales on the weekly market appeared to be difficult. However, DEYI Ltd. had the opportunity to integrate mushroom tube coal combustion into their current manufacturing process to produce new tubes. In this way costs for firewood could be saved.
In order to advance the sale of alternative coal for cooking purposes, DEYI experimented with the pyrolysis of other bio waste supplied by partner companies. Corn cob coal showed the best results and has combustion properties very similar to conventional charcoal. Currently, Leonidas’ research group and his wife use corn cob coal for cooking. The first bags of coal were sold to the direct neighborhood at low prices. Due to the increasing demand, sales will be expanded in the future.