Bio-charcoal for Burkina Faso

The Empower Village plan for sustainable charcoal

Empower Village and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resource Research Institute (NRRI) are collaborating to develop a commercialized manufacturing system capable of utilizing a wide range of biomass materials to produce a truly sustainable bio-charcoal. Burkina Faso is the first site, but the system could be rolled out worldwide. 


The NRRI has proven that bio-charcoal manufacturing technology can achieve yields in excess of 62%  utilizing various non-wood based biomass materials. This is double the output of traditional artisanal methods currently being used. 

Phase one

Empower Village, in collaboration with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture,  will work with the NRRI to produce one ton of  bio-charcoal made from various bio-mass source materials. The bio-charcoal briquettes will then be distributed for real-life testing by women in Burkina Faso.

Over a two month period, surveys will be conducted and the results analyzed to determine the best source material for commercial bio-charcoal production. The manufacturing process will be reviewed and a commercial prototype will be designed utilizing the tested torrefaction and densification technologies.

Funding for this phase will be provided through individual private donors and the participants of this fundraising effort.

Phase two 

Empower Village has the full support of the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture to build the commercial prototype manufacturing facility in Burkina Faso.  

Funds will be secured through various governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the African Development Bank, the European Union, and the USAID and the World Bank Group’s Carbon Initiative for Development (Ci-Dev). 

The Ci-Dev recently loaned $19 million to a group in Rwanda to develop  clean burning ceramic cook stoves which utilize wood pellets. The funding was made possible through the ability of the project to produce Carbon Tax Credits which  can be utilized to repay the loan.  Empower Village will incorporate a similar strategy.

Empower Village needs your help for Phase One! Together, we can raise the funds for prototyping and testing of this game changing technology which is capable of tripling the amount of charcoal currently being produced by artisanal wood-based charcoal producers.

Invest in sustainability

View the milestones for Phase one

See our progress

Comparison of bio-charcoal to commercial charcoal briquettes

Left: Cattails Biocoal Briquettes Right: Kingsford™ Commercial Charcoal.

As seen in the side-by-side comparison,  the cattail based biomass briquettes produced by NRRI are similar to those produced by Kingsford and have a very similar heat content and curve. 



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Your investment makes phase one possible

Test and source biomass material for US testing


Empower Village will work with environmental 

authorities in Burkina Faso to determine the most

abundant biomass materials available there for

developmental testing at the NRRI in Minnesota.


Test biomass materials at NRRI labs


The NRRI lab will produce one ton of bio-charcoal made from various sources and Empower Village will  distribute to women in Burkina Faso for in-home testing. 

Real-world testing in Burkino Faso

 Empower Village will conduct a professional survey of the in-home

Empower Village will conduct a professional survey of the in-home testing and work with the NRRI to analyze the results. 

Gather and analyze test results


Empower Village will conduct a professional survey of the in-home testing and work with NRRI to analyze the reports.


Design a commerical scale production system

Empower Village will work with the NRRI and a third party

engineering firm to design a prototype commercial scale

bio-charcoal production system using proven torefaction 

and briquetting technologies.

View NRRI Renewable Energy Video

Download NRRI report: Visit to Mauritania