Project Description

Living requires fuel.  Even in the most rustic and primitive areas of the world, fire is required to cook food and to provide heat.  In many developing countries where electricity is not widely available and fossil fuels are too expensive, wood is the primary source of fuel.  Malawi is a country of particular interest which has been ravaged by its people, stripping its landscape of forests to produce charcoal.

Malawi is a country the size of Pennsylvania in southeastern Africa, with a population slightly larger—nearly 14 million.  A large majority, roughly 85%, of Malawians are poor subsistence farmers living in rural Malawi1.  A very shocking comparison shows the per capita GDP of Malawi is $800 compared to Pennsylvania’s of greater than $40,000.  Malawi is currently experiencing massive deforestation to provide fuel for its people.  Because of this, homemade charcoal from trees is illegal; however, deforestation continues.  These circumstances present a need for an inexpensive fuel source which does not encourage the environmentally damaging process of providing fuel which is currently destroying the Malawian landscape.

Re-Fueled designed a process and mechanism which can provide an affordable fuel made from materials which would otherwise be wasted.  Keeping the Malawian people in mind as the end users, the design is bound by considerations for the culture and circumstances surrounding Malawi. 

With a heat content of approximately 8,000 BTU/lb compared to charcoal’s 9,000 BTU/lb, paper is an excellent substitute which can be readily found in the streets of Malawian cities2.  Re-Fueled designed this mechanism to provide an adequate substitution for charcoal production while also aiding in cleaning the city streets in Malawi.



1 CIA World Factbook (

2 Robert L. Brauer, Safety and Health for Engineers