30 Sep 2011

Charcoal project field trials completed

8:40 am on 30 September 2011

A majority Maori-led project has successfully completed field trials near Wairoa of technology to turn wood into charcoal for fuel.

The process, pyrolysis, involves heating up wood without any air which turns it into charcoal instead of ash.

Colin Knox of Ngati Raukawa, who is leading the project, says work started a decade ago but in the past two years there's been intensive research and development as well as field trials.

He says one of the drivers is to create jobs for Maori in forest towns by putting mobile kilns in iwi-owned forests.

Dr Knox says there's a good market for charcoal because coal is getting more expensive while charcoal production is becoming more efficient and therefore cheaper.

He says the local market for using charcoal in barbecues is limited, but there's a bigger market overseas and potentially in New Zealand using charcoal as fuel.