BB First Trials

Lab #1: Our First Briquette Success!

On Tuesday, we experimented with different materials to make our first batch of briquettes. These materials included:

  • Newspaper
  • Corn Husks
  • Water
  • Leaves
  • Kale Pulp

We all had many unanswered questions like, what materials will work the best? What material combination will burn the best? What material combination will allow us to form the sturdiest briquettes? We had so many questions, so we just decided to jump in and try to make some form of a briquette. We planned to fail, and by failing we knew we would learn. However, we were actually successful and over the course of the lab we made about eight briquettes!

Will created a mould and plug for the briquettes, so we could make uniform briquettes each time. Jake was in charge of breaking the mixture (minus the kale pulp) down so that it would stick together, while Kelly and Jaclyn made a masher tool to help Jake break the mixture down. We found that the corn husks either needed to be allowed to rot for a few days or trimmed into smaller pieces with scissors, since they retained the most shape of all the materials used (which is not desired).

Our first briquette brought a lot of excitement since it was evident that the mould would suit our needs perfectly. However, when we added the kale pulp to the mixture our briquettes really began to take form, since it appeared to act as a nice binding agent in our initial batches. We first used a small hand press to compress the materials, but then moved on to the hydraulic press left behind from a previous project. The difference in compression was amazing — we could add nearly twice as much material and have it compressed into less than half the size. Each briquette was lightweight but fairly sturdy in nature.

Briquettes in chronological order of production, from left to right.

Next week we intend to:

  • Burn our briquettes and measure observations such as burning time, structural integrity, etc.
  • Create more briquettes using different combinations of the same materials
  • Attempt to use overly ripened bananas (either the peels or the fruit) in one of the mixture iterations
  • Measure drying time (if time in the lab permits)