Found some interesting information about using loose biomass (composts?) to create bio-cokes. There is a little information here: http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jhts/35/2/35_97/_article/-char/ja. There are some other articles running around talking about this, but as far as I can tell, they are saying that they were able to successfully create bio-coke at 180 degrees Celsius and 20 MPa (2,900) PSI. If this is correct, then it is doable with an electric or solar oven and a diesel 3,000 PSI air compressor... Again, assuming this actually works, then the fuel problem ceases to be a problem, as you can simply bake loose biomass into usable fuel.
Based on some of the other articles, it looks like this stuff burns hotter than traditional coke, too.. which is weird:
" OSAKA -- A research group from Kinki University, in Osaka, Japan has announced that fuel created from used tea leaves can substitute for coke during iron manufacturing and the casting of iron parts.
Since this new type of fuel is derived from plant matter, burning it results in no net increase of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the fuel burns at such a high temperature that iron melts faster in the furnace than with coke. The university group, which conducted experiments in actual furnaces, calculates that fuel using tea leaves can substitute for around 11% of the coke used in furnaces. " - http://www.allbusiness.com/environment-natural-resources/pollution-environmental/11567692-1.html
Anyone want to get an air-compressor and give this a shot?
Rasmus: There is no question that this works, as far as production is concerned. It is called hydrothermal carbonization:
- Waste vegetable oil furnace design