The TCHO Team is off to an exciting start with clear goals and objectives for the coming quarter. To begin, our team started with a comprehensive lit review to examine the current methods of biochar production both locally and internationally as well as the benefits and prospects to biochar use in Ghana. Our review pointed us towards the use of Top Lit Up Draft pyrolysis for small scale biochar production. We have looked at a variety of apparatus designs for rural areas with limited access to resources in Thailand and Nepal. Designs ranged from construction in oil drums to paint cans and corrugated sheetings. As we continue to work on our design assessment, we are considering the objective and scale of our design, and what priorities are most salient for our first year of experimentation.
Additionally, we had our first partner call with Brad, Chief Chocolate Maker at TCHO. We were able to get a team briefing on more contacts that we could get into contact with in Ghana and at CRIG (Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana). Further, we learned more about the fermentation process and the size and scale at which the husks are discarded. Brad talked to us more about the nature of the farms in Ghana and his knowledge of the pertinence of the project to the area. We were able to learn more about farming practices, current disposal methods for the waste stream, and the approximate size of these farms. Brad also talked to us about getting access to husks here at Stanford.
On Sunday, TCHO hosted a party after the Fancy Food Convention in San Francisco, and had pods on display at this event. Brad invited us to the party and told us we could pick up the pods there afterwards if this was convenient for us. Latifah, D'Arcy, and Adam attended the party and were able to meet with Brad and other business partners at TCHO, then retrieve the pods (and plenty of free chocolate) to bring back to campus. While it was initially researched that the cacao husk composed about 90% of the mass of the pod, after preliminary analysis of the pods received, this number looks closer to 70%. This is still a significant portion of the pod, but it important to note the significant difference from sources found online. This week, the team will be focusing on developing three fleshed out designs for a TLUD pyrolysis apparatus and begin practicing welding in the PRL.