If we use a piece of wood, close it in a air-tight container and expose it to high temperature with a minimum access of oxygen we get charcoal and additional substances – water distilate, wood tar and wood gas.
Charcoal is widely used in the following fields:
- catering business – grilling
- medicine (activated carbon: WIKIPEDIA)
- cosmetics (activated carbon )
- filters (activated carbon )
- gunpowder production
- grocery industry (as a coloring factor when producing concentrated fruit juices, jams etc.)
Date when the production of charcoal was started is unknown.
The oldest utilization of the charcoalisthe black pigmentused in the Europeanon-rock paintings, painted in the periodfrom circa 32 000 yearsago. Nevertheless it has not been established whether thiscoal was produced onpurpose. It is assumed thatat the earliestthe charcoal was used ca. 5000 years BC as a fuel used for melting the copper.The first certain evidence of utilization of charcoal is dated as far back as to the 2750 BC in Egypt ‘, it was used as a fuel in iron processing. Throughout the next1000 years, charcoal has been used in glass manufacturingprocess.
Back in the early days, charcoal was created by burning wood-stockpiles covered with ground (so called charcoal pits), and even though it is one of the oldest ways to get charcoal, much of the charcoal produced nowadays around the world, especially in Africa and South America, is created with the use of the pits. People working with charcoal were known as coal passers.
In these countries overexploitation of the forests is quite common, and it is related to the production of the charcoal. Additionally, the wood gas that is produced when charcoal is processed is released into the atmosphere – this also has a detrimental effect on the environment.
A perfect example – degradation of the forested areas in Poland, in Holy Cross Mountains or in Kłodzko Valley, when in the dark ages charcoal was produced for the use of melting metals in furnaces.
Such phenomena, related to environmental damage, have been often present along with abuse of the child-workers. They are still present in contemporary charcoal production in some African and South American countries, where most of the charcoal sold in Europe comes from.
Additionally, nowadays information appears that charcoal production in Africa is financed by the Muslims and it is used to finance their activities (http://www.patriota.pl/index.php/hic-et-nunc/lewiatan/617).
Quality of charcoal produced in charcoal pits, also known as klins, cannot be controlled in any way, hence the detrimental impact of the manufacturing process on the environment also cannot be limited.
As the time passed the above-described methods have been replaced with the use of small-sized metal retorts, which were a response to the growing environmental awareness, and need of enhancing the quality. They include filters that intercept the harmful compounds.
Small retorts are used to produce charcoal in the Bieszczady Mountains. At the peak moment there were 500 functioning retorts, nowadays just 80 have been left.
The retorts are the main source of charcoal in the Eastern Europe.
Even though production process with the use of retorts can be controlled better than in case of the pits, it is still based on the experience of the coal passer.
In the beginning of the first half of the 20th Century, the first facilities using industrial retorts for production of the charcoal have been established. These still exist e.g. in Germany and France, nevertheless, the environmental requirements get more and more strict, and they require the producers to adapt the traditional technologies in a way that would meet the environmental norms.
It is worth noting that the industrial systems have a long service life, and one of the leading German charcoal producers still uses a facility that was established back in the 1930s.
Now, the most modern factory in Europe, and one of the most modern factories in the world, that deals with charcoal production is located in Polish city of Wałcz and it is led by the OZEN company.
Production process in a factory so modern is being constantly monitored, and the charcoal we get has the highest usability parameters. And, which is quite important for the grill lovers, the parameters are always the same. There is no room for error or variability of the charcoal properties.
Each batch is practically identical.
Production process in such system also meets the highest quality requirements as well as the standards of environmental protection.
OZEN’s main driving value is to act in harmony with the nature – and this is achieved thanks to the innovative production technology. As the first company in the world we use the side-products that are created during the charcoal production process – wood pyrolysis – heat is used for production of “green” electricity. We have resigned from external, conventional sources of electricity. In that way we use 100% of our wood resources. The solutions applied are patent-protected.
In order to be more friendly to the nature and use our technology to the fullest, we have created additional electricity production source. We burn biomass – straw or woodchips – in an independent biomass boiler. The solutions applied are patent-protected.
The charcoal is produced solely with hard deciduous woods, primarly beech, oak, ash or maple. We only use FSC-certified resources, hence we support proper exploitation of the forests.
Selective choice of the resources, along with modern, environment friendly technological solutions provide best quality of our products. Additional supervision over the required quality norms is kept by our laboratory.
Production of electricity in our facility is based on a modern solution, which uses the waste heat from the charcoal production process, which makes it possible to use the wood resources fully, taking care of the natural environment. This solution is patent-protected, by patent No. 204717.
All of the produced energy is considered to be renewable. Three steam boilers connected to a common fresh steam collecting pipe fot the 7.23 MW Siemens SST-300 bleed-condensating turbine are the heat source for the unit.
The main aim of our company is to manufacture coal and briquette of the highest quality. The internal quality control system is responsible for monitoring the physical-chemical values in the laboratory and the quality control process of the finished product.
The product of top quality is characterized by compatible value of the four following parameters:
- ash content
- carbon content (C-fix)
- volatile chemical compounds content
By controlling these parameters, we can be sure that the product is compliant with the DIN PLUS norm.
C-Fix – it is the content of the single-compound carbon in the charcoal or briquette. Pure coal is a substance which is used for grilling. High concentration of pure carbon means that burning temperature is higher and time of grilling is longer. Low content of carbon lowers the temperature and shortens the grilling time. The higher C-Fix parameter is the better the quality of the coal.
Volatile compounds – Gases contained in the charcoal or briquette. Too much volatile compounds would create flames and a lot of smoke. Too small quantity of these would make burning process long and burdensome. 12-14% is an optimal concentration.
Ash – leftovers that appear after the charcoal or briquette is fully burned. High ash content is related to the presence of sand, minerals and other undesirable substances. These additives reduce the temperature. They also cause unpleasant smoke to appear, they shorten the grilling time.
Water – during the pyrolysis water is limited as much as it is possible. Nevertheless, adding too much of it would make the coal burn too quick.