Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

April 26, 2019 by  
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Researchers in Ghana are testing a system that will turn cocoa into biofuel  — but don’t worry — it uses the green waste produced during harvest, so you can still eat all of the chocolate! The project is funded by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and will be tested in Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. Chocolate is a multi-billion-dollar international industry, with the bulk of cocoa coming from Africa. “Every ton of cocoa beans harvested generates 10 tons of cocoa pod husks,” says Jo Darkwa , professor of energy storage technologies at Nottingham and one of the project team leads. Husks are typically discarded during harvest after the beans are extracted. Usually, the husks are left to decompose on the cocoa plantation while the beans head to fermentation and drying facilities before they are turned into chocolate. Now, researchers have developed a system that will use the husks as feedstock to generate biofuel. The husks are processed into pellets, or bricks, that can burn in generators and produce “green” electricity. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa “Feasibility studies indicate that cocoa pod husks could be converted into valuable biofuels and become an important energy supply for rural areas that only have 15 percent coverage at present,” explained Professor Darkwa. The many benefits of cocoa fuel This initiative is not only an innovate green technology, it also has other secondary benefits: Increase access to electricity If successful, the project could contribute to the Ghanaian government’s pledge to ensure 100 percent of Ghanaians have access to electricity by 2030. Reduce deforestation and improve climate and human health Currently, 80 percent of households in Ghana use wood as their main source of fuel for cooking and heating water. This practice not only leads to widespread deforestation in order to harvest wood, but indoor air pollution from wooden stoves is one of the top four leading risk factors for death worldwide. Create jobs If successful, the biofuel system would need workers to collect, transport , treat and process cocoa pod husks, which would create additional jobs and provide income for rural communities. Cocoa as chocolate, cocoa as compost Since it is the beans that are used to make chocolate, the husks are simply bio-waste, and therefore the biofuel system would not take away from farmers ’ profits in any way— in fact it would augment the profitability of the entire cocoa pod. However, cocoa pod waste is an important source of nutrients for cocoa trees. During harvest, ripe cocoa pods are collected and piled throughout the plantation. When the farmers are ready to extract the beans, the pods are cracked open and usually left in a heap to decompose. When husks biodegrade, they are an incredibly rich source of nutrients that help trees grow, improve soil quality and reduce plant disease. Studies show that the decaying pods host beneficial fungi and microbiotics, so will farmers and their crops be losing out on natural fertilizer if they ship their husks off to biofuel systems? Farmers with the capacity to do so might collect and bring the husks to an on-site composting location, but most small farmers do not have the capacity to process or evenly distribute the nutrients from the pile of decomposing husks and rely on nature to take its course. Farmers who do maximize the use of the compost may prefer to continue to do so, however those without that ability now have the option to profit from electricity generation instead. Testing the system in Ghana and the world “Undoubtedly, provision of sustainable energy services through cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving the quality of lives and thus alleviate poverty in rural communities as well as fight against climate change,” Professor Darkwa told Climate News Network . The project team is expected to test a prototype of their system at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in July 2019. The plan is to design, build and operate a small-scale bio-power electricity generation unit that burns husks in a gasification system. Each system includes a gasifier, small generator, solar drier and pelletizer and costs approximately US $50,000. If the prototype is successful, the system could be replicated in other countries following additional feasibility studies. Via Climate News Network Images via Flickr ,  dghchocolatier

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Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa

January 29, 2019 by  
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One of the worlds top three food corporations, Cargill, announced a plan to reduce deforestation caused by their cocoa farmers. The plan, Protect our Planet , promises 100 percent traceability of cocoa beans in Cote d’Ivoire by 2020 and zero clearing of forested land for plantations in both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The plan also covers Brazil, Indonesia and Cameroon and includes a wide scale mapping project that identifies the exact size and location of every small farm. Cargill has already mapped 90,000 farms and conducted risk assessments for over 2.3 million hectares. The mapping aims to improve traceability, transparency and accountability. Through GPS technology , Cargill can track farmers’ tree cover, cultivation methods, fertilizers, boundaries and can therefore refuse beans from farmers who spread into forested or protected lands. An improved barcode and electronic payment system, combined with finance training for farmers, means that beans can be traced back to farmers and ensures they are compensated right away. Deforestation is largely due to increasing demand for chocolate combined with poverty, which forces farmers to exploit their land for increase production, such as using harmful chemical fertilizers. When old trees become less productive and land is degraded, farmers often seek new land and may clear forested areas. Related: Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti “Global production relies almost entirely on five to six million smallholders,” a study on cocoa-related deforestation reports. “While the deforestation occurs at the smallholder level, it is the companies, governments, and NGOs that need to take action due to the limited technical and economic capacity of smallholders to enact the necessary reforms on their own.” Many small farmers lack government-recognized land rights, which could impact their access once all farms are officially monitored and mapped. Despite investments in building community awareness about climate-smart agriculture , when farmers exhaust cocoa production on their land, will this plan limit their individual growth and livelihoods while Cargill still has the option to move on to farmers with more productive land? When Cargill’s emissions are calculated in combination with the other four largest food corporations, their carbon footprint is larger than BP, Exxon Mobile or Shell. Though serious action on deforestation by major corporations is overdue and paramount to making an impact of scale, it remains to be seen how much this sustainability plan will impact small farmers, while Cargill’s unrivaled power and polluting capacity remain unchecked. Via AllAfrica Image via Shutterstock

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Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa

David Adjaye unveils designs for National Cathedral in Ghana

March 7, 2018 by  
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In celebration of Ghana’s 61st year of independence, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo revealed designs for a National Cathedral of Ghana to be built in Accra. The government appointed David Adjaye to design the project, a Ghanian British architect of Adjaye Associates who rose to international prominence for his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The multi-faith landmark will be a multifunctional space home to Africa’s first Bible Museum and Documentation Center as well as venue for presidential inaugurations and state funerals. The new National Cathedral will be built on a 15-acre landscaped site next to Osu Cemetery. Envisioned by Adjaye as a “physical embodiment of unity, harmony and spirituality,” the multi-faith building will house a series of grand chapels , baptistery, two-story 5000-seat auditorium, music school, central hall, choir facilities, art gallery, retail, and other multipurpose space. The building’s adornments and furnishings will be designed in collaboration with Ghanaian and African artists. Related: National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington, DC A new ceremonial route and landscape will link the Cathedral to prominent Accra landmarks including Independence Square, the State House, and Africa Unity Circle. “It is an immense honour to be granted the opportunity to contribute something of this scale and import to my home country,” said Adjaye. “I have sought to craft a building that not only understands its landscape but one that will be unique to Accra and the Ghanaian Nation.” + Adjaye Associates Via ArchDaily Images via Adjaye Associates

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David Adjaye unveils designs for National Cathedral in Ghana

This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

November 13, 2017 by  
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This amazing school in rural Ghana was built in 60 days for just $13,976. The new InsideOut School replaces the only school in the area, which was destroyed by strong winds. Architects Andrea Tabocchini & Francesca Vittorini designed the non-profit project and built it with the local community and volunteers from 20 different countries. The team had to work without electricity, which meant they had to build the structure by hand. They moved 58,000 kg of and crafted materials available on site. Local soil was compacted to create staggered walls, while a lightweight wood structure lifts the roof to allow zenithal light into the building. The skylight also facilitates natural ventilation. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower The result is an affordable school that can be replicated anywhere with a similar climate. Via Plataforma Arquitectura Lead photo by Andrea Tabocchini

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This rammed earth school in Ghana school cost only $13,976 to build

Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

November 13, 2017 by  
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Bill Gates  is purchasing 25,000 acres of land in the West Valley area of Arizona, 45 minutes west of Phoenix, with the intent of building a high-tech “smart city” named Belmont. “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” said Belmont Partners, the real estate firm involved in the purchase, in a press statement. The purchase, made by an investment firm run by Gates, cost $80 million and will be developed along the proposed freeway I-11, which would connect Belmont to Las Vegas and other major hubs of the region. Although Gates has given the project a new boost of funding and publicity, the planned community of Belmont, Arizona has been in the works since the 1990s. Although the housing crash put a damper on the city’s development, the regional real estate market has since recovered. The city also is banking on the parallel development of I-11, a proposed interstate highway that would run through Belmont to Las Vegas. The first section of I-11, near Boulder City, Arizona, was opened in August 2017. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change 3,800 acres of the proposed community will be used for office, retail and commercial space while an additional 470 acres will be set aside for public schools . The remaining space is enough land for 80,000 residential units. “Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model,” said Belmont Properties in a statement. When completed, Belmont will join Arcosanti , an ecologically-inspired experimental town to the north of Phoenix, as one of the region’s most high-profile planned communities. Via Popular Mechanics and The Republic Images via Gisela Giardino/Flickr and  Depositphotos

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Concrete brise soleil keeps this glass-enveloped building cool in sweltering Ghana

June 15, 2016 by  
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One Airport Square is a striking building featuring a very unique structure on its façade: a criss-crossing brise soleil made out of concrete. Its powerful aesthetic was inspired by the motifs of the traditional African fabrics and peculiar patterns of palm tree bark. While the design embraces local traditions, it also meets the needs of environmental sustainability. The building’s shell is a combination of overhanging slabs and diagonal frames that shelter the interior against direct sun rays. Thanks to this design, One Airport Square features an unexpected envelope entirely made of glass and, therefore, 17,000 m² of bright interiors that are also protected from the intense sun. Who would have ever imagined a comfortable, completely glazed 9-story building in the heart of Africa? Besides acting as a giant brise soleil , One Airport Square’s irregular grid is also a load-bearing element of the building. Related: How thousands of rough wooden logs protect this pavilion from solar radiation Interestingly, Cucinella did not simply deliver an eye-catching and sustainable landmark. The development of the Kotoka International Airport area in Accra is also a great public space. From the urban point of view, One Airport Square project is a congregation piazza that’s active day and night and capable of hosting various events and activities. The commercial gallery of the ground floor contains shops, restaurants and cafes, allowing One Airport Square to make a significant contribution to the surrounding community, landscape and providing an example in terms of ethics, cultural sensitivity and environmental sustainability. + Mario Cucinella Architects Images via Fernando Guerra courtesy of the Mario Cucinella Architects

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Concrete brise soleil keeps this glass-enveloped building cool in sweltering Ghana

Buy one of these bikes, and a schoolgirl in Ghana gets one too

March 3, 2016 by  
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Deltec launches line of super efficient, net-zero energy homes – starting under 100K

March 3, 2016 by  
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Wheel Story House is West Africa’s Largest and Oldest Home Made from Reclaimed Materials

November 10, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Wheel Story House is West Africa’s Largest and Oldest Home Made from Reclaimed Materials Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: accra , Ghana , house made from trash , Reclaimed Materials , reclaimed wood , Recycled Materials , Sammy Mensah Ansah , trash construction materials , upcycle , upcycled construction materials , West Africa , Wheel Story House

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Wheel Story House is West Africa’s Largest and Oldest Home Made from Reclaimed Materials

Reinventing the African Mud Hut: Winners of the 2014 Mud House Design Competition

October 15, 2014 by  
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  The challenge for this year’s Mud House Design competition in Ghana was to design a single-family unit on a plot no larger than 60 x 60 feet at a cost of no more than $6,000 (excluding land cost). The idea was designed to generate contemporary mud house designs  o be available for free for everyone to use, and to hold building workshops to construct the best design entries. These would serve as examples to the local people that mud architecture can be both durable and beautiful. After receiving numerous submissions , the Nka Foundation has announced the winners: The 1st prize winning design is Sankofa House by M.A.M.O.T.H from France ; the 2nd prize winner is Eban Aya by Atelier Koe in Senegal; and the 3rd prize is awarded to Ejisu Earth House by Jason Orbe-Smith from the USA. More information can be found at the Nka Foundation website. + Nka Foundation The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: African architecture , African mud house , African mud hut , Atelier Koe , contemporary mud house , Eban Aya , Ejisu Earth House , Ghana , Jason Orbe-Smith , local earth , M.A.M.O.T.H. , mud house , Mud House Design , mud hut , Nka Foundation , Sankofa House , Senegal

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