Energy Production in a Smallholder Context

Although the main activities of NMT are macadamia agroforestry there is some development work being done on sustainable energy production in a smallholder context, since the general use of wood burning for energy is a very significant cause of the current deforestation in Malawi. A combination of agroforestry and wood fuel reduction will be most effective for deforestation recovery.

NMT Trustees have been developing energy producing devices as a means of reducing the requirement for wood fuel for cooking in a smallholder context.

Efficient cook stoves

A cook stove made from simple materials has been designed using a lid and small chimney that enables solid fuel to be burnt with a gasified flame without smoke, efficiently and at a high temperature.

The July and August 2016 news items show the work done at the Home of Hope in West Malawi.

The first one built there using materials and tools brought with the youth group from the U.K. was lit in 5 minutes. A phrase became very popular at the Home of Hope, reflecting the potential of what could be achieved for the benefit of the country:

Malawi Opanda Utsi!
Flame Without Smoke!

Further work for building a reliable and permanent cooking setup for the Home of Hope is required.

Further information and videos are at a Malawi Opanda Utsi Facebook page.

Macadamia shells have been very successfully used and tested as an alternative solid fuel. Measurements in the U.K. showed that 800 g of macadamia shell could burn for over 1 hour at a heating rate of 0.5 kW (heating 8 litres of water to over 60°C).

The stove burns the fuel from the top down, leaving charcoal/biochar in the can as an extremely useful by-product.

Solar troughs

A PDF download of the solar trough kettle work at includes design, build and efficiency measurements and video of solar energy boiling 2 litres of water.

Materials brought in the August 2016 trip (reflective foil, chipboard forms and hardboard) were assembled to demonstrate that water can be boiled using the typical Malawian sunlight.

Water has been boiled in the vertically aligned pipe in Malawi and in 1 litre and 2 litres in solar trough kettle designs in the U.K. and early versions in Malawi.

Biochar and macadamia shell

The by-product macadamia shell from macadamia agroforestry can be used as a solid fuel in a suitable cookstove to produce very high quality biochar.

The uses of biochar are very extensive including significant enhancement of soil, especially where intensive farming occurs and where soil quality and fertility may have been reduced over many years of farming. Smallholder macadamia agroforestry and its by-products can therefore be very beneficial for soil enhancement as well as provision of a nutritious food.

NMT have been investigating cookstove design and use for biochar production and soil enhancement. Having seen a working cookstove design from Costa Rica NMT has been investigating the building and use of such a cookstove in a smallholder context in Malawi.

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