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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Green fuel from rice and coconuts

Green fuel from rice and coconuts

TWO green-focused NGOs have developed a new fuel which aims to reduce deforestation and provide an income to poor families near the former Stung Meanchey dump in Phnom Penh.

The “charbriquettes” promoted by Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise, created by two NGOs, are made of rice husks and coconuts.

“When the dump site near Pour un Sourire d’Enfant closed, the NGO was willing to find a substitute income for the families,” said Antoine Cabassu, part of the sales and marketing team for NGO Geres and SCFE. “Geres had heard about ovens that could be used to carbonise the biomass,” he said.

Two years ago, PSE and Geres set up SGFE to hire workers from Phnom Penh’s poorest communities to make the briquettes, used as solid fuel instead of wood in stoves.

Today, the enterprise functions with two security guards and 12 employees, who earn US$80 a month and benefit from health insurance.

The briquettes are a way to improve the management of waste materials and reduce greenhouse gas discharges.

Waste coconuts and rice husks often decomposes and discharges methane, a gas 24 times worse than carbon dioxide in affecting global warming, according to Cabassu.

This product, ideal for barbecues, also produces no smoke – which can be toxic – during the cooking process.

The “charbriquettes” have been for sale since last January, but SGFE has just launched a commercial expansion drive. For the moment, exporting to Japan enables the enterprise to have time to develop, but the aim remains to capture a larger share of the Cambodian market, which traditionally relies on charcoal to cook.

However, charbriquettes are more expensive than charcoal, at 2,300 riel for a kilogramme of premium fuel that burns for two hours and US$1 for a kilogramme of diamond fuel that burns for five hours. The charbriquettes are currently available at Lucky Supermarket and some Tela gas stations.

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