Charcoal Making in Cuba

› Marabu Cuba

According to the Cuban Communist Party newspaper "Granma", the Marabú bush (Dychrostachys cinerea) also called "sickle bush" is expanding rapidly over the fertile farmland in the provinces of Matanzas and Camaguey.
The Marabu bush has sharp thorns and is considered as a weed that overgrows other crops and destroys them.
The Cuban newspaper Granma states that the majority of the farmlands in Matanzas is affected by the Marabú.
According to Marianela Martin González from the newspaper Juventud Rebelde 2 million hectares (20,000 square miles) are overgrown by the Marabú weed, this is 18% of the national territory.

Charcoal Solution for the Marabú Problem

The Marabu tree is excellent for the production of charcoal for heating or barbecueing. In the provinces of Cienfuegos, Camaguey and Granma, the Marabu trees are cut down and carbonized throug slow burning.
According to an article published by ACN (Cuban News Agency) the charcoal is shipped to Europe (Spain, Greece, France, Germany) where it is used for cooking.
In 2011 charcoal exports reached a value of 6 million USD. Specialists estimate that there are 900,000 tons of Marabú available in Cuba, that could generate one billion dollars worth of charcoal.

What is charcoal?
Charcoal is the dark grey residue of slow burned wood, carbonized by pyrolysis. During the process the limited supply of oxygen prevents the wood from burning Charcoal was used in the past for cooking and industrial applications (furnaces) In the modern times charcoal is mainly used for grilling and barbecues.


Lighting charcoal
Common methods of lighting charcoal:
- Use of matches (Kingsize matches)
- Gas lighter/flamegun for BBQ's
- Electric charcoal starter
- Lighter fluid, but this can leave a chemical taste.

Biomass Plant to produce Cuban Electricity

Marabu is not only used for charcoal making but also for electricity production in a biomass plant According to the Cuban newspaper "Juventud Rebelde" a researcher of the University of Camaguey said " We can produce up to 13 megawatt from the harvest of 10 hectares daily, with each hectare generating 35 tons of Marabú biomass."
A biomass plant can save Cuba over 300,000 of oil annually.

Sources:
Juventud Rebelde (22-07-2009)
ACN (Cuban News Agency) April 27 2011

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