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Shipping Container Workshop To Kenya Answered


My friends and I are building a workshop out of a shipping container, and we want Makers' suggestions on equipment.
We'll be sending a 20' shipping container from Austin, Texas to Bungoma, a city in Western Kenya.
The primary goal will be constructing chambers in which we can create biochar ( http://www.re-char.com ), and we want to make the shop as versatile as possible.

Thus far, we've definitively spent ~$8,000 of our $20,000 budget, mainly on a used plasmacam 4'x4' CNC with 2 plasma cutters, and allocated <20% of our space.
Here's our list of some proposed equipment: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsejLtLc70nwdG5DeVJmOVA4OUxpcXl6alFaNzh5Unc&hl=en_US
What are we missing that we just shouldn't be without?
We'll have access to (dirty) grid power, standard industrial building materials, and (slow, expensive) shipping from the West.

Please add your ideas to the spreadsheet and your broader comments below.
We'll read everything, incorporate the best suggestions, and let you know what our final inventory becomes.
We need to have our container in transit by the end of the month, so don't delay!




Also, have you not looked at the work of places like Aprovecho on things like cooking stoves. However neutral your project is, its a shame to waste the energy of pyrolysis JUST making char.


We are looking into using the process heat generated from pyrolysis for things like purifying water and electricity generation, but as far as stoves go, the jury is still out on whether or not the stoves are really worth it after all. When you are talking about choosing between making enough char to benefit your crop yields or changing the whole way a society cooks, studies seem to lean towards making more char over cook stove technologies. We have been working in Kenya for some time now, and along with a few NGO's who focus on biochar proliferation (check out ACON @ http://bit.ly/prjzlO) and the Cornell biochar research team based in Kisumu (led by the godfather of biochar himself, Johannes Lehmann http://bit.ly/z26tD).

Countless NGO's have tried and failed when it comes to new stove adoption in the developing world, and biochar stoves, while attractive from a heat standpoint, don't seem to cut it as far as char production capacity goes. Stay tuned to see how things progress! twitter: @re_char, facebook: http://on.fb.me/f1YS1T, or simply www.re-char.com

I thought the jury is still out on whether bio-char makes any difference to soils too.

Tlud stoves seem very effective for char generation from the papers I've read.


re:char turns ag waste into a carbon-negative soil amendment called "biochar." Luke is our chief tech officer, and we are so excited to be sending this shipping container to Kenya! check us out at www.re-char.com, like us on facebook, and follow our twitter feed if you are so inclined!


I know the idea, but are you JUST creating "char", or using the pyrolysis gases for something useful.


Could you ask Luke to take a photo of your container so far and to add it to this forum topic (not as a comment, but Edit the topic and Add Image)?

I'd've been inclined along the lines of Kiteman - the guys out there are gifted at making stuff from scrap, but they would need some of the more exotic bits, you could take with you - I'd have taken a HV start plasma cutter, and built a CNC plasma table in the field, saving space and money.

Given time and a distinct lack of enforceable health & safety legislation, they wouldn't need any exotic tools - I've seen them cutting sheet steel with a hammer and chisel, demolish a concrete office building by using a sledge hammer to break through the bottom of the wall (all the way round, like ringing a tree), and transport forty-foot lengths of rebar on a scooter.

We saw a combined-harvester "excellent specialist maintenance company" (= about a dozen harvesters parked beside the road), and the most common tool in sight was a half-pound lump hammer.

Some omissions I noticed:

- Safety gear like steel-capped boots, gloves goggles and helmets. Fabric for overalls, which can be tailored and logo-embroidered locally. First-aid kit. Carbon-monoxide detectors.

- Promotional material like leaflets or posters.

- A small LCD TV which can display a promotional and safety instruction video from an SD card. Just photos with a voice-over would be sufficient.

- You will need a security budget for the duration of the project.

Could you attach a photograph of your workshop so far? I'bles doesn't feature forum topics without pictures to go with them.

You might also consider making that long and unweildy URL an active hyperlink (the "globe with chain" icon will do it for you).

Methinks someone has been ignoring the guidelines a bit lately...

Dopey question - why send out a shipping container to make biochar?

Why not send a human being with the cash to spend on local labour & materials to build a biochar factor?

Even better, send out a human to train locals to train others to make biochar - the equipment can be cobbled together from local scrap (something Kenyans are very good at), so your money would go a lot further.

It sounds like they want to use the workshop to make other things down the road, and not be too specific. Perhaps the biochar chamber fabrication was part of their grant proposal?