Burning Bananas for Fuel


I can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to the humble banana skin. Once I peel the banana, the skin is simply thrown into the compost. But work currently being done by scientists at The University of Nottingham has opened my eyes to the fact that it has the potential to do more than simply rot away.

Joel Chaney, a PhD student at the university, has developed a method for turning banana skins (and leaves) into fuel briquettes that could be used for cooking and heating.

The process involves using a domestic meat mincer to turn the banana skins and leaves into a pulp, then adding some sawdust to create a consistency that allows the mixture to be molded into briquettes. After being baked in an oven at 105 degrees, the dried briquettes turn into an effective fuel source.

It’s such a simple idea that offers huge potential for communities in the developing world. In places like Rwanda, where bananas are a staple crop, these banana briquettes could be the answer to the problem of dwindling firewood, a direct result of intense deforestation.

Watch how Joel makes his banana briquettes with this video at Test-tube.org.

Image: Jason Gulledge