Requirements for equipment for carbonization

There are numerous different types of equipment for the carbonization of raw materials of plant origin. Some, though popular in the past, have now lost their relevance because new, more efficient options have begun to appear.


Charcoal is an integral product of human life. It is a major fuel in many parts of the world, and a significant carbon source in the economy. Such widespread use of charcoal makes it impossible to refuse to produce it.

Unfortunately, only a small fraction of charcoal is produced using “civilized methods” – clean, safe working methods and low environmental footprint. Therefore, it is useful to identify the main characteristics of charcoal-making equipment which fits the description “modern equipment for the carbonization of raw materials of plant origin”.

The main problem in the production of charcoal kilns is “lost knowledge” in the field of charcoal itself. As you know, this industry was actively developed centuries ago: the principles and associated skills were passed down the generations almost like folk-lore. Unfortunately, after the development of the petrochemical and coke-chemical industries the forest chemistry industry fell into decay. As a result, the basic knowledge in the field of charcoal was lost.  This led to a lack of theoreticians and practitioners with higher or secondary technical education. As a result, a mass of “Kulibins” appeared, who, through successful or “not so” experiments, began to produce equipment for the production of charcoal.

The optimal and most rational carbonization solutions are those devices in which the following principles are implemented:

  1. Environmentally friendly process. Products emitted during the carbonization process must be 100% combusted, ensuring no noxious emissions. Liquid pyrolysis products must be burned out, because their use is possible only with complex chemical processing. In the condition they are produced, they are toxic and dangerous to humans and the Earth.
  2. Use of excess heat. Excess heat generated in the “exothermic reaction” stage of the pyrolysis process should be used for “endothermic processes” such as drying of the raw material and initiation of pyrolysis. This eliminates the need to use additional fuel to maintain the process.
  3. Elimination of the scope for human error. This can be achieved only with 100% automation of production processes. Woody biomass is a very variable raw material, “gut feeling” can never maintain uniform high quality in the way continuous process monitoring can.
  4. The use of appropriate construction materials in carbonization devices. For example, a retort of a carbonization furnace is subject to the effects of an aggressive environment: temperature, flue gases, pyrolysis products, which makes it impossible to use “black metal” for it, since ordinary metal will burn out. Extra thickness will only delay this process. This applies to other materials, for example, refractory brick – this material does not like constant changes in temperature conditions, causing failure of the kiln lining.
  5. Minimum heat loss. Due to the fact that the carbonization process includes a “endothermic – heat absorption” reaction and an “exothermic – heat evolution” reaction, the efficiency of almost all carbonization processes will depend on the level of heat loss.
  6. Separation of carbonization processes. The carbonization process consists of: preparation, drying and carbonization of raw materials, followed by cooling and stabilization of charcoal. Each of these processes provides for different conditions. To ensure optimal overall process conditions, and efficient use of the carbonization device, it is recommended that all the above processes be carried out in separate devices. For example: a carbonization device is not an optimal device for drying raw materials, while a device for drying raw materials does not make it possible to carbonize raw materials; and a carbonization device should be as well insulated as possible, therefore it is not an efficient environment for cooling charcoal.
  7. Maintainability of the carbonization device. There is no “perfect equipment”, any design must be repair-capable.
  8. Compliance with Technological standards. The process of preparation of raw materials, its carbonization, cooling and the stabilization of the charcoal must comply with the technical regulations of the enterprise, which provides for the cyclical processes and norms of Labor Protection, Fire Safety and Ecology.


Only in compliance with the points above, can you expect to make money from the production of charcoal.