Charcoal is one of the earliest fuel found by humans. It was also used for writing and drawing during that time. Charcoal was extensively used in industries in blast furnaces and bloomeries for metal processing which was then later replaced by other fuels such as coke, gas, etc. during the industrial revolution in nineteenth century. The charcoal has now shrunk in usage wherein the applications are limited to few household applications and industrial is rare.
There are variety of charcoal available in the market made through various organic source such as peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum. The wood charcoal is produced by heating wood logs or piece in the absence of oxygen in airtight chambers, or in kilns supplied with controlled amounts of air. The wood charcoal is considered to be a good fuel as compared to wood as it has relatively high calorific value and low ignition temperature. Low water or moisture content in charcoal makes it comparatively lighter than wood and less smoky when burnt.
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Owing to porous surface and high affinity to absorb liquids and gases, the wood charcoal is finding new applications in filters, gas masks, deodorizers, antigastric drugs and several others. Also, the wood charcoal getting high popularities for producing activated carbon, decolorizing agent and in production of chemicals such as carbon disulfide, sodium cyanide, carbon tetrachloride, among others. Moreover, wood charcoal is also used in production of gun powder as it’s a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur.
A Good quality charcoal burns with less emission and can give a heat value of about 13,000 BTU/lb which is around 150% greater than that of equivalent weight of dry wood. Along with that it has low average ash content – 2% to 3% by weight, which makes charcoal desirable for domestic fuel. Only traces of sulfur and phosphorous are found in charcoal.
Wood charcoal is extensively used in home and outdoor recreational cooking and production will continue to expand as this use increases. The charcoal cooked food leaves a specific essence to the food which is not getting prominence in variety of hotels and restaurants as marketing strategy to attract customers. Growing demands for wood charcoal has stimulated interest in the manufactures and dragging new entrants in the market. The wood charcoal business can be initiated with little investment in kilns which ranges around US$ 100 to US$ 500 and further small investment in warehouse, mechanical setup, wood and labour.
However as the wood charcoal is obtained through trees and promotion of which may result into high rate of deforestation. Moreover, slow pyrolysis or drying of the wood to make charcoal requires slow heating which requires additional fuel or electric power to run kiln. This contributes to the overall price of coal making it relatively costlier. Growing environmental concerns, depletion of resources and legislations pertaining to limit the emissions are some other factors impacting growth of global wood charcoal market.
The Wood Charcoals can be segmented into various categories based on sources and End-User. Popular Sources: Spruce, Oak, Alder , Pine, Others End-User : Residential/Domestic, Industrial, Hotels & Restaurants, Chemical, Others
Owing to limited uses and restriction from governments, the global wood charcoal market is anticipated to remain stagnant over the forecast period. The wood charcoal is finding new applications in industries not as fuel but as a product additive. In geographical aspects North America has been one of the largest market for the wood charcoal followed by Asia, Latin America and Africa. Europe and Japan on other hand has limited production of the wood products. At country level, top exporters of Wood Charcoal are Indonesia), China, Poland, Mexico and Belgium. While the top importers are Japan followed by South Korea, Germany, U.S and France.
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The global wood charcoals market is highly unorganized and involve participation of large number of small players active locally. A large share of wood charcoal market in under developed countries is driven by local manufactures most of which are unregistered and performs only in the local market. Some of the players involved in the production of wood charcoal are JACOBI CARBONS GROUP, Hancock Timber Resource Group, Haycarb PLC, Active Char Products Pvt.Ltd (ACPL) among others