The many lives of charcoal

In Africa, charcoal is ubiquitous as an energy source for cooking, even in urban areas where electricity and gas are available. Yet when Catherine Nabukalu was taking courses on energy as part of her degree in the Master ...

Restoring Earth's natural defenders

It's no secret that the forests of the world are under severe pressure from human activities. We tend to think of tropical forests, and in particular the Amazon, as bearing the brunt of the impacts of deforestation and other ...

Scientists discover that charcoal traps ammonia pollution

Cornell University scientists Rachel Hestrin and Johannes Lehmann, along with collaborators from Canada and Australia, have shown that charcoal can mop up large quantities of nitrogen from the air pollutant ammonia, resulting ...

We revealed the value of Zambia's wild yam. Why it matters

Wild harvested crops are a vital source of food in much of the world. Some common wild edible plants in southern Africa include wild mushrooms, such as Termitomyces titanicus, orchids from the genera Disa, Habenaria and Satyrium, ...

Charcoal: Major missing piece in the global carbon cycle

Most of the carbon resulting from wildfires and fossil fuel combustion is rapidly released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now shown that the leftover residue, so-called ...

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Charcoal

Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen (see pyrolysis, char and biochar). It is usually an impure form of carbon as it contains ash; however, sugar charcoal is among the purest forms of carbon readily available, particularly if it is not made by heating but by dehydrating with sulphuric acid to minimise introducing new impurities, as impurities can be removed from the sugar in advance. The resulting soft, brittle, lightweight, black, porous material resembles coal.

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