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Helec supports Africhar project in Mozambique

Helec has been supporting an ongoing development programme to produce a wood to energy system for small and remote locations in Mozambique.

Helec engineers are designing a robust CHP unit that will produce up to 15 kW of power as well as hot water.

Helec engineers are designing a robust CHP unit that will produce up to 15 kW of power as well as hot water, which can be used for washing or to pasteurise drinking water. The prototype will become operational in February 2020.

Mozambique’s small rural villages suffer from poor water quality and a general lack of utility infrastructure, such as electricity. The Africhar project looks set to have a real social impact in the country as it seeks to bring a portable, clean and reusable energy source to the region.

The project uses a retort vessel to create charcoal that, at the same time, also produces methane gas as a by-product. This gas can be collected and used for cooking, heating, drying and electricity generation. The gas produced is enough to run a 15kW generator, providing benefits for local communities.

The system will be made up of three principal components; a gasification retort, a simple gas cleaning system and the CHP unit designed by Helec. In addition to generating gas, the charcoal production process generates heat that can be used to pasteurise water for drinking, as well as for crop drying.

The (Exeter)Retort, manufactured by the Carbon Compost Company, is a compact and highly efficient system that was developed to produce charcoal from wood waste of varying qualities. A by-product of this process is a high content methane gas, which is suitable for use as a fuel for a small gas generator.

The charcoal is a non-perishable, saleable product, which is semi-activated and can be used for cooking or soil improvement. It can be produced using dry biomass waste from crops or from managed woodland, adding value that increases the likelihood of forest retention.

Developing the cleaning module was one of the largest challenges of the project, as it had to be effective enough to clean the gas but also needed to be simple enough to be cleaned and serviced in a remote location, with minimal tools and training.

The system can clean almost all the tar and condensate from the collected gas, which is then stored in flexible storage bags for use either immediately or later as desired.

Based on a gas converted Perkins engine, the CHP system will produce up to 15kW of power and hot water at 85 degrees Celsius, which can be used for washing or to pasteurise drinking water.

This project will provide potentially life-changing benefits the local community.

2 December 2019


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