EDUCATING partner communities of the Simbahayan with the ‘up-cycling’ of tin cans to gas stoves and organic material waste to fuel and fertilizer is the primary solution of a Thomasian professor to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Also promoting the usage of biochar, Neil Ian Lumanlan of the College of Science said that the organic material can go with any composting process and microorganisms can also help to avoid the stinking of the compost. Additionally, it can absorb moisture up to five times its weight and retain it, along with nutrients needed by plants.
Lumanlan called his invention “Tincanium Stove,” from the suggestion his friend Jock Gill as it is a stove made from tin cans. It is designed to reduce the wasted heat and reduce the wood consumption of locals in Nueva Ecija when they cook.
“I was actually surprised that the locals are using LPG, they are in the province,” Lumanlan said.
The production of LPGs burns fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. Producing carbon dioxide increases the greenhouse effect of earth, while producing methane is 30 times more powerful when analyzed molecule per molecule than carbon dioxide.
Also, some locals use wood to cook, unaware that the smoke produced while cooking may be dangerous to their health. The smoke particles can enter the human respiratory system and cause diseases. These two problems primarily caught the attention of Lumanlan as he began thinking of ways to mitigate them.
He then demonstrated the use of biological charcoal also known as biochar. Biochar is any gasified biomass like wood, manure or leaves.
“The carbon co-product of pyrolisis of biomass, when processed and applied to soil to improve fertility is referred to as biochar,” Lumanlan explained.
Pyrolysis produce bio-oil and heat that can displace fossil fuels to generate power while also sequestering carbon at the same time. Pyrolysis of waste biomass can also be used to produce sustainable fuel briquettes and charcoal.
Therefore, hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms are derived from the organic material leaving the carbon behind. The carbon left is a valuable soil conditioner and amendment if processed to absorb nutrients from other waste streams.
Lumanlan also demonstrated the procedures of making the Tincanium Stove to the local communities.
“[The locals] are surprised and amazed that they can cook without smoke and use very little [amount of] wood. They do not need to cut trees to cook food,” Lumanlan said.
Giving Back to Earth
Carbon emissions avoided from not using fossil fuels makes it carbon neutral but biochar fertilizers further increase plant growth, creating a positive feedback loop. Food yields also increase as biomass residue increases to sustain energy production and removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“[In appearance,] it is just like a charcoal but it has a greater value for food production,” Lumanlan added as he explained that biochar may also be used as a soil enhancer.
“When you put carbon back to the soil, you are reversing the cycle. The benefit [of doing so] will increase soil fertility which is needed for our food security,” Lumanlan said.
This is what they call the Carbon Negative System where carbon from biomass will not go to the atmosphere but instead return to the ground.
“If you change something archaic like flame to something sustainable, you are changing the negative impact to positive impact,” Lumanlan remarked.
Lumanlan also integrated tincanium and biochar in his lectures to develop the students’ competency to nature.