Briquettes made from rice husks or other plant waste present a cleaner alternative to wood and charcoal in a region that collectively produces nearly 100 million tons of rice per year. In Myanmar, biomass from agricultural waste is being used to power small home appliances and even entire villages. Sanu Kaji Shrestha was wandering along a Cypriot coastline 10 years ago, enjoying some downtime from a workshop he was leading on green energy technology, when he decided to collect some seaweed to experiment with. Shrestha was searching for ways to expand the types of raw materials that could be turned into combustible briquettes — an increasingly common way for natural waste or by-products to be used as an alternative to cutting down trees and mangroves for fuelwood. “I tried, and finally I made briquettes from the seaweed,” Shrestha told Mongabay. “It [showed] me that raw materials for briquettes are available everywhere.” He’s not wrong, either, having successfully made about 100 different types of briquettes from biomass, the use of organic material for energy either through burning or conversion into biogas. Shrestha has used nuts, fruit — both edible and inedible — rice husks, mushroom waste, leaves, grass and waste […]

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