Conversion of Organic Waste into
Charcoal: An Agricultural Focus
Meiwa Co., Ltd. offers a solution to converting organic waste into charcoal. A biomass carbonization plant is essentially a waste recycling plant that converts organic matter into charcoal (referred to as biochar) for fuel, soil conditioner or fertilizer*. Materials that can be processed include food waste, sewage sludge, animal waste, etc.
Usually, it is difficult to carbonize wet biomass because it requires energy and cost to dry it out first. However Meiwa’s technology makes it possible to process by utilizing waste heat from combusting syngas from carbonization chamber and patented carbonization method with dry biomass.
*See another page of UNIDO’s Environmental Technology Database for more details:
Major Features and Advantages
While common methods can only use dry materials, the Meiwa’s technology can process both wet and dry materials. Examples of wet materials include food waste, animal waste, human waste, and sludge. Dry materials include bamboo, residual wood, saw dust and rice husk.
Meiwa has installed over 70 biomass carbonization plants for processing various ingredients.
II. Energy Efficiency and Cost Efficiency
An integrated drying unit utilizes waste heat from the carbonization chamber. This results in energy- and cost-efficient operation of the carbonization plant, as (with the exception of the ignition process) no fossil fuel is required.
III. Quick Process
Compared with other organic waste processing methods, biomass carbonization is quicker with an output that is easier to sell. With composting, for instance, the fermentation process takes a long time, with a final output that is difficult to sell. Conversely, this carbonization plant can finish the process within one day and the output (biochar) can be sold as natural fertilizer, soil conditioner or fuel, diversifying the inventory risk.
IV. High Processing Capacity
The process can produce between 50kg/d and 25t/d, which can be adjusted based on the client’s needs. The yield is between 1/3 and 1/4 of raw material as charcoal.
Meiwa Co., Ltd. has delivered more than 70 biomass carbonization plants since 1999, 15 of which went to foreign countries such as China and Vietnam. About 85% of them were large scale plants, while the rest were small- to middle-scale plants (batch type).
Simply put, biomass carbonization plant is a waste recycling plant that can convert almost anything organic into charcoal (called biochar). Processable materials include sludge, human waste, chicken manure, scrap wood, agricultural residue, food waste and water hyacinth among others. As biochar can work as a natural fertilizer, soil conditioner, fuel etc., Meiwa’s biomass carbonization technology provides solutions to waste management and agriculture, environment and/or energy at the same time.
Competitive advantage compared to products of competing enterprise
(1) Advantages over competitors’ carbonization plants
Various processable materials
Based on our experience of installing more than 70 biomass carbonization plants, Meiwa has a market-proven method of processing both wet and dry materials, while typical competitors can only deal with dry materials.
Energy and cost efficient operation
Meiwa can use an integrated drying unit that utilizes waste heat from carbonization chamber as well as dry biomass for energy- and cost-efficient operation of the carbonization plant. Except for the ignition process, it does not require any fossil fuel.
(2) Compare to other organic waste processing method
Composting is another common technology for organic waste recycling. However, it is often a problem that the fermentation process requires a long time and the final output is hard to sell for value. Compared to this, our carbonization plant can complete the process within a day and the output is easier to sell (as powerful natural fertilizer/soil conditioner or fuel).
Both wet biomass (e.g. sludge, human waste, and animal waste, water hyacinth, food waste etc.) and dry biomass (saw dust, rice husk, residual wood, bamboo, etc.)
Charcoal (biochar) that can be used as a natural fertilizer, soil conditioner and/or fuel
From 50kg/d to 25t/d, adjustable upon client’s request
Yield of output products:
About 1/3~1/4 of raw material (as charcoal)
Drying unit, power generation unit*, wood vinegar harvesting unit*, desulfurization unit, etc. *ingredient-selective
Technical maturity / Past record of introduction
Since 1999, we have delivered more than 70 biomass carbonization plants. 15 of those were sold to foreign countries (China, Vietnam, Norway, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand). Approximately 85% of them were large scale plants, while 15% were small- to middle-scale batch plants. Ingredients range from rice husk, bagasse (sugar cane residue), fruits and vegetables, sludge, woody biomass, chicken manure, food waste to infected animals, oyster shell, mobile phone and diaper. We also have related biomass processing technologies, such as methane fermentation, biodigester and biomass power generation plant.
|Delivered to||Location||Ingredient biomass||Year||Use of biochar and other processed materials|
|1||JA Kita-ibuki(Numata town office)||Hokkaido||Rice husk||1999||Soil conditioner and snow melting agent|
|2||Kitamura village office||Hokkaido||Rice husk||1999||Soil conditioner and snow melting agent|
|3||JA Bibai||Hokkaido||Rice husk||1999||Soil conditioner and snow melting agent|
|4||JA Urausu||Hokkaido||Rice husk||2000||Soil conditioner and snow melting agent|
|5||Irabu Island||Okinawa||Bagasse (sugar cane residue)||2000||Soil conditioner for sugar cane fields / Wood vinegar for agriculture|
|6||Tokyo University||Tokyo||Brewer’s grain||2000||Research|
|7||JA Ashikita||Kumamoto||Onion/mandarin orange residue||2001||Soil conditioner for onion fields|
|8||JA Kumamoto Uki||Kumamoto||Vegetable residue||2002||Mixed in compost, for farm house|
|9||Matsubara Chicken Farm||Kagoshima||Chicken manure||2002||Soil conditioner, for tea and vegetable fields|
|10||JA Kotonoumi||Nagasaki||Mandarin orange residue||2002||Soil conditioner, for mandarin orange fields|
|11||JA Sakuma||Nagano||Lettuce residue||2003||Sold to an agricultural soil production company|
|12||JA Ehime Taiki||Ehime||Compost||2003||Mixed in compost, to home centers|
|13||Anshan Yinzhu Cereals and Oils||Liaoning, China||Rice husk||2003||Heat insulator at iron works, etc.|
|14||Kasetsart University||Bangkok, Thailand||Wood chips, etc.||2003||Research|
|15||Ryuku University||Okinawa||Vegetable, etc.||2003||Research (Soil conditioner for sugar cane fields / Wood vinegar for agriculture)|
|16||JA Arida||Wakayama||Mandarin orange residue||2004||Soil conditioner|
|17||JA Dainagasaki||Nagasaki||Vegetable residue||2004||Soil conditioner, Moisture adjustor|
|18||Ogi town office||Ooita||Bark compost||2004||Mixed in compost|
|19||JA Amahigasi||Ehime||Rice husk||2004||To make high quality compost|
|20||Yatsuo town office||Toyama||Wood chips, pruning||2004||Soil conditioner|
|21||Sanwa Yuka Industrial||Aichi||Drying of oil-containing sludge||2004||Recycle of oil|
|22||Hokuren vegetable plant||Ibaraki||Vegetable residue (Onion, etc.)||2004||Soil conditioner|
|23||Iwate Welfare Federation||Iwate||Used paper diapers||2004||Deodorizer|
|24||Zhongsuotun Village, Anshan city||Liaoning, China||Rice husk||2005||Gasified fuel|
|25||H.C.Starck – V TECH Ltd.||Tochigi||Sludge||2005||Tantalum recovery|
|26||Meidensya Corporation||Ishikawa||Wood chips||2005||Research|
|27||Industrial Technology Research Institute||Taiwan||Bamboo||2005||Research|
|28||Miyako Island||Okinawa||Bagasse||2005||Soil conditioner|
|29||JA Kinosato||Wakayama||Pruned tree||2005||Soil conditioner|
|30||JA Nagamine||Wakayama||Mandarin orange residue||2005||Soil conditioner|
|31||Shibuya Kogyo Co.,Ltd.||Ishikawa||medical waste||2005||Research|
|32||Kureha Foods Co., Ltd.||Toyama||Tofu residue||2005||Drying, waste volume reduction|
|33||Kanuma City Government||Tochigi||Wood chips and sludge||2006||Soil conditioner|
|34||Osaki Town office||Kagoshima||Chicken manure||2006||Soil conditioner|
|35||Minami-Awaji City (3 sets)||Hyogo||Onion residue||2006||Soil conditioner|
|36||Miyako Island Research Center||Okinawa||Bagasse||2006||Gasified fuel|
|37||Tianjin(2 sets)||China||Rice husk, Raw cotton(Leaf, Stalk)||2006||Gasified fuel|
|38||Meidensya Corporation (Noto Forestry Cooperative)||Ishikawa||Wood chips||2006||NEDO trial|
|39||JA Fuyo||Korea||Rice husk||2006||Soil conditioner|
|40||Hokkaido University||Hokkaido||Wood chips||2006||Research|
|41||Centrair (Central Japan International Airport)||Aichi||Garbage||2006||Fuel|
|42||Minami-Awaji City (2 sets)||Hyogo||Onion residue||2007||Soil improvement|
|43||Miyako Island Bio-Eco System||Okinawa||Bagasse||2007||Research|
|45||JA Ishikawa kahoku||Ishikawa||Rice husk||2007||Soil improvement|
|46||A certain place||Japan||Wood etc.||2007||Research|
|47||Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo||Nagano||Biomass||2007||Research|
|48||Godo Crarification Center||Gifu||sewage sludge||2008||Soil improvement|
|49||Hida City||Oita||Wood etc.||2008||Materials|
|50||Tsugaru National Land Preservation Co., LTD.||Aomori||Wood etc.||2008||Materials|
|51||Hirosaki University||Aomori||Wood etc.||2008||Research|
|52||Kyo maron||Ibaraki||Prune residue||2008||Materials|
|53||A certain maker||Japan||Wood chips||2009||Electrical generation|
|54||Godo Crarification Center||Gifu||sewage sludge||2009||Soil improvement|
|55||NORA Bio-mas Eco Fuel Noto||Ishikawa||Wood chips||2009||Make pellets|
|56||Jisyoen Social Welfare Co.||Ishikawa||Wood chips||2010||Supplying hot water|
|57||Ryukyu University||Okinawa||Wood chips, fruits seed||2010||Research|
|58||A certain maker||Japan||Wood chips||2010||Electrical generation|
|59||A certain factory||Shanxi, China||Kanaf||2010||Industrial material|
|60||Sanko Kogyo Co., Ltd.||Okayama||Trimming tree||2010||Waste volume reduction|
|61||Anshan Minghe Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd.||China||Sunflower seed||2011||Waste volume reduction|
|62||Minkan Inasaku Kenkyujo||Tochigi||Rice husk||2011||Research|
|63||Fukue Einou Limited private company||Gifu||Momigalite (solid fuel made of rice husk)||2012||Selling|
|64||Vietnam National University and HoChiMinh City University of Technology||Vietnam||Biomass||2012||Research|
|65||CSIC ENVIRONMENTAL CONSTRUCTION, INC.||China||Sludge residue||2012||Waste volume reduction|
|66||Japan wood energy Co., Ltd.||Tokyo||Biomass||2012||Waste volume reduction|
|67||A certain maker||Fukui||Rice husk||2012||Waste volume reduction|
|68||Tosanshou Co., Ltd.||Akita||Wood chips||2012||Bio-oil|
|69||A certain maker||Yamagata||Wood chips||2012||Gasification power generation|
|70||Federation of forestry cooperatives (Ishikawa)||Ishikawa||Pellet||2012||Heating|
|71||Nihonkaigas Co.,Ltd.||Ishikawa||Food waste||2012||Fermentation（for research）|
|73||Kanazawa University||Ishikawa||Sludge||2013||Fermentation（for research）|
|76||Neonite Corporation||Fukushima||Wood chips||2014||Power generation|
|77||Chicken farm||Tochigi||Chicken manure||2014||Fertilizer|
|78||Tanakakensetu Co., Ltd.||Ishikawa||Oyster shell||2014||Calcined lime for construction material|
|79||Petrol China||China||Oil-containing sludge||2015||Oil collection|
|80||Tonookousan Corporation||Fukushima||Wood chips||2015||Bio-oil collection|
|81||Hytem Co., ltd||Ishikawa||Chicken manure||2015||Power generation|
|83||Japan wood energy Co., Ltd.||Yamanashi||Woody material||2015||Power generation|
|84||A certain company||Norway||Wood chips & fish residue||2015||Waste treatment|
|85||Wood processing company||Ishikawa||Biomass boiler||2015||Firewood drying|
|86||Tokyo University||Chiba||Wood chip||2015||Power generation（for research）|
|87||Tokyo Institute of Technology||Kanagawa||Wood chip||2016||Power generation（for research）|
|88||Kyushu University||Vietnam||Sludge||2016||Fermentation & carbonization（for research）|
|89||Anshan Minghe Environmental Protection Technology Co., Ltd.||China||Rice husk||2016||Heat insulating material|
|90||A certain maker||Kagoshima||Bone black||2016||Regeneration of activated carbon|
1. Intellectual property-related risks
Meiwa’s patent covers a specific method of plant operation. Therefore, physically copying the machine alone will not be competitive as such operation will likely require high running costs. Meiwa also supplies core parts from Japan.
2. Human resources management
Meiwa is interested in partnering with the local private sector that wishes to grow business as an agent. Meiwa will make every effort to manage human resources through incentivizing partners by actual sales performance and regularly having online/offline communication.
3. Finding right partners in local private and public sectors
To avoid fraud and other risks with inappropriate partners, Meiwa will first try to meet potential partners introduced by credible parties, such as international organizations, aid agencies, embassies, etc. as well as the ones attending high-level networking events such as TICAD. Meiwa will inquire the business record of foreign companies and project experience with the public sector. Meiwa does not intend to make any exclusive agreements.
Information on patent related to this technology
Patent No. 5636527
Patent No. 5887627
(both in Japan)
|Name||Meiwa Co., Ltd.|
|Address||3-8-1, Minato, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0211 Japan|
|Date of company foundation||15 March 1964|
|Number of employees||49 (as of 2 December 2016)|
|Capital||JPY 65 million (as of 2 December 2016)|
|The type of business||
Modality of business transaction
We are keen on developing partnerships with local companies. While transferring technologies, each local partner is expected to serve as Meiwa’s agent for market expansion, project formulation, distribution, local production and maintenance of its carbonization plants step by step.
Export of product
Especially for the first project opportunity, we strongly recommend partners to adopt our turnkey plant exported by us for quality assurance purpose.
Licensing pf patent
Schematic illustration of the technology
Selected examples of Meiwa’s contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(1) Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
14 two-week interns from 7 African countries studying the mechanism of a carbonization plant
Technology transfer and capacity development for local operation and maintenance
Meiwa’s small to medium-sized plants are specifically designed for developing countries. They can run without electricity or water and are transportable by truck. Furthermore, with locally-procurable materials such as iron sheet, used containers of cargo ship and/or drum containers and basic facilities for ironworks, most parts can be manufactured on-site. Through conducting projects, Meiwa wishes to contribute to the country’s industrialization by (1) bringing new viable infrastructure for recycling organic waste, (2) transferring manufacturing methods to local technicians, (3) building capacity of local technicians on machine operation and maintenance, and (4) assisting biochar market establishment as fertilizer and/or fuel. In this context, Meiwa has already hosted a two-week internship for the 15 African students (all participants of ABE Initiative) from Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Botswana and Madagascar and another training for biomass-related experts from 10 countries worldwide in conjunction with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2016.
(2) Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
Reduction of municipal waste taken to a landfill
In most developing countries, municipal waste management has become a major problem as the result of population growth and rapid urbanization. Meiwa’s suggestion is to carbonize organic fractions of waste into biochar before they arrive at landfills where they get mixed with non-organic waste or pollutants. For example, in a non-capital city in Kenya, (i) vegetable waste generated in a city market and (ii) household sludge collected by trucks to a treatment lagoon take large part of waste in the municipal landfill. By carbonizing them at the market and the treatment lagoon, the amount of waste is expected to be reduced significantly.
(3) Goal 13: Climate action
Economically-incentivized climate change countermeasure
On macro scale, fixing biochar (which used to be just another organic waste to be dumped and burnt with fuel) into soil is a carbon negative behavior. By using biochar, farmers will be a driving force to mitigate climate change even if they are not yet environmentally aware. Although exact number depends on material type and other conditions, generally the application of 100g of biochar approximately equals to reducing 160-170g of atmospheric carbon dioxide as compared to burning.
Also, because of the high porosity, biochar works as soil conditioner for moisture control. Since biochar can make rainfed agriculture more resilient to irregular rainfall pattern, it has huge potential to contribute as climate change adaptation countermeasure as well.
(4) Other environmental aspects related to SDGs
The following link to our website illustrates selected examples of technology application to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
*Please mention that you saw UNIDO's website when making the first contact with the company.
- Low carbon & energy conservation : Agriculture, fishing, and forestry / Industry / Renewable energy
- Prevention & destruction of pollution : Air pollution / Sewage / Urban and living environment
- Waste treatment & management : Municipal solid waste / Industrial waste / Medical waste