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Bamboo Charcoal

With the increasing industrialization, air and water pollution are becoming serious environmental problems. Bamboo charcoal has proved itself to be a functional and sustainable solution for environmental protection and has found increased interests the world over.

With depleting forests the wood that can be used as high-grade charcoal is in shortage and having similar properties and short harvest cycle, the bamboo charcoal provides a sustainable alternative to hardwood charcoal. Bamboo charcoal provides excellent adsorption and infrared radiation capabilities. Also bamboo charcoal has good strength and it is easy to process it into different shapes. 
Due to these reasons, a wide range of bamboo charcoal-based products are being manufactured around the world and bamboo charcoal has found many applications in areas of purifying drinking water, indoor air, adjusting the humidity in the house, odour adsorption, health care and various others. Scientists are also researching bamboo charcoal for its anti-radiation capabilities. 

Bamboo charcoal Trade and Market:

Rank Country Export -2015
Amount (USD)       %
1 China 31505707 67.63
2 Indonesia 3418415 7.34
3 Netherlands 1841286 3.95
4 India 1762216 3.78
5 Russian Federation 1663826 3.57
6 Spain 1238354 2.66
7 United Arab Emirates 1176804 2.53
8 Canada 966711 2.08
9 Egypt 727443 1.56
10 Singapore 524178 1.13

Rest of World 1762631 3.78

Total 46587571 100

The total reported export of Bamboo charcoal is 123.03, 68.82 & 46.59 Million USD in the year 2013, 2014 & 2015 respectively. China has the lion's share in the export of bamboo charcoal with over 65% (2015) of total exports coming from China.

Rank Country                       Import -2015
Amount (USD) %
1 Netherlands 9037346 20.47
2 Japan 6217462 14.08
3 Chile 5997224 13.58
4 United Arab Emirates 4155835 9.41
5 Qatar 2978703 6.75
6 USA 2563107 5.80
7 Bahrain 2155695 4.88
8 Saudi Arabia 1404802 3.18
9 Canada 1017573 2.30
10 United Kingdom 873079 1.98
11 Rest of World 7754468 17.56

Total 44155294 100

Netherlands and Japan are the top importer countries of Bamboo Charcoal. However, use of charcoal is prevalent in most Asian countries such as  Japan, South Korea, Taiwan Province of China and Chinese Mainland. There is an increased use of Bamboo charcoal in the USA, European and North American countries in the recent years.

Uses of bamboo charcoal around the world: 
  • Use of bamboo charcoal for purifying drinking water, 
  • to place sliced bamboo charcoal for cooking rice in the rice container, 
  • to lay particle bamboo charcoal under the floor or behind wallboard for adjusting indoor humidity, 
  • put bamboo charcoal into a refrigerator for getting rid of the odour, 
  • use the mattress, pillow, and insoles that are filled with bamboo charcoal. 
  • use in cooking and barbecue.
  • Improving Indoor Air Quality:  The Bamboo charcoal is very effective in adsorbing the harmful air pollutants present in our houses and reducing their harmful effects in an environment-friendly manner. It deodorizes the air and has a long effective period. It can be cleaned and reused.
  • Use of vegetable oil while cooking releases volatile chemical compounds.
  • Formaldehyde: The paints and varnishes, resins used for decorating the houses and wooden furniture releases formaldehyde which is a very harmful substance.
  • Ammonia -  urea-based antifreeze admixtures used during cement mixing causes continuous transformation and emission from urea to gaseous ammonia in the indoor concrete wall.
  • Benzene - used as a solvent in paints and other varnishes. Harmful when exposed for a long term.
  • Other Harmful substances in the air due to smoke, cigarettes, vehicle pollution etc.
  • Water Purification: Apart from its adsorption qualities bamboo charcoal is a very good absorbent also. It absorbs harmful 2,4-di-chloro hydroxybenzene up to 1500mg/L.
  • Maintaining Humidity - Being a highly porous material, bamboo charcoal is an excellent medium to maintain indoor humidity. It absorbs or releases the excess moisture in the air. Thus giving nice ambient surroundings inside your house.
  • Deodorant and Preservative: Charcoal is very effective and a very popular product for deodorizing the refrigerator and cold storages. and maintaining the humidity inside.
  • Activated carbon - Bamboo charcoal is used to manufacture the activated carbon for various industrial and household applications.
Traditionally Bamboo Charcoal is used for various purposes such as:
In modern times bamboo charcoal has applications in various areas:

Apart from the above mentioned traditional uses, With the increased awareness about the environment-friendly nature of bamboo, the bamboo charcoal is being used in many home and industrial applications. Such as

How is it made:
Bamboo Charcoal is made by the process of pyrolyzation.

According to Wikipedia:
Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen (or any halogen). It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro "fire" and lysis "separating".
Pyrolysis of Bamboo is done in brick or mechanical kilns. There are four stages of bamboo pyrolysis:
  1. Drying: This stage takes place below the temperature of 120℃. The moisture and water content of bamboo evaporates at this temperature, however, the chemical composition of bamboo remains intact.
  2. Pre-carbonization: In this stage, the temperature remains between 120℃ to 260℃ and the unstable chemical compounds in bamboo begin to decompose into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, vinegar,  etc.
  3. Carbonization: The temperature of this stage is in the range of 260℃ to 450℃, and the bamboo decomposes into various liquid (acetic acid, methanol, and bamboo tar, etc. ) and gaseous compounds (methane and ethylene).
  4. Calcination or Refining: At the temperature of over 450℃ the bamboo becomes charcoal. The temperature in which refining of charcoal is done determines the quality of the bamboo charcoal. Based on the temperature in this stage, the charcoal is divided into three groups viz. low-temperature, mid-temperature charcoal and high-temperature charcoal.
As discussed earlier, there are three types of products we get after the pyrolysis of bamboo,

Products Ratio
Bamboo charcoal 30%
Bamboo vinegar 51%
Bamboo gas 18%
Loss 1%

  1. Solid Product is the Bamboo Charcoal.
  2. Liquid Products: After condensing the vapor and gases collected in the container crude bamboo vinegar is obtained from the process. It is a thick material also contains bamboo tar, which can be separated by placing the liquid in some container for a month, The tar gets settled in the bottom. The yellowish-brown upper layer contains more than 300 organic compounds, main of them being:
    • Saturated acid: acetic acid, formic acid, propanoic acid, and butanoic acid
    • Unsaturated acid: propenioc acid
    • Hydroxyl-acetic acid: 2-hydroxyl-acetic acid
    • Heterocyclic acid: β -furan carboxylic acid
    • Alcohol: methanol
    • Un-alcohol: allyl alcohol
    • Ketone: acetone, methyl-ethyl-ketone, methyl-propyl-ketone, and cyclopentanone
    • Aldehyde: formaldehyde, ethyl-aldehyde, and furol
    • Ester: methyl formate, methyl acetate
    • ArOH: phenol, methyl-phenol, and O-benzenediol
    • Lactone: butyrolactone
    • Aromatic substance: benzene, toluene, and naphthalene.
    • Heterocyclic compounds: furan, and α -methyl furan
  3. The gas products: The bamboo gas obtained is a flammable gas containing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ethylene, and hydrogen, etc. It can be used as fuel.
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