Service Learning Without Borders – Turning Peanut Shells to Fuel Briquettes in the Gambia

Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

None (link only)

Publication Date

June 2013

Conference Name

120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


The need of firewood in the Gambia is leading to rapid deforestation. An engineering student team in our program was founded to convert peanut shells, an abundant agricultural waste from the country, into fuel briquette. By consulting the local contacts, the students developed a series of pressing devices and processes for the purpose. Then they compared the strength, burning rate and duration of burning of the briquettes, as well the difficulties to obtain binder and process the material. They finally settled to an easy to follow recipe and a very simple device to press the loose shells to briquettes. In the January of 2012, a student team went to 8 remote villages in rural Gambia. They demonstrated the briquetting process to the local people. The team was warmly received and all villages agreed to try out the method so they could preserve the dwindling forest while supporting the growing community.