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Sustainable futures

From beans to biofuels

Every ton of cocoa beans harvested generates 10 tons of cocoa pod husks that currently go to waste. But imagine if we could use this by-product of the cocoa harvest to generate sustainable energy?

That’s the goal of my research into carbon: to help develop new biofuels with the potential to provide affordable clean energy, reduce poverty and help to tackle climate change.

As far as we know this bio-rural cocoa energy scheme is the first of its kind in the world and, if successful, would have a significant impact in rural areas of West Africa.

Ghana is the second biggest producer of cocoa in the world and new bio-energy technologies would support the Ghanaian Government’s aim for universal access to electricity by 2030 – particularly important for rural areas that currently have only 15% electricity coverage.

"Provision of sustainable energy using cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving quality of life and thus alleviating poverty in rural communities, as well as helping in the fight against climate change."
Professor Jo Darkwa

I am working with colleagues in the faculties of Engineering, Science, and Social Sciences and have secured funding of £250,000 from the University’s Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) to take our research to the next stage. In Ghana, we are working with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – where the bio-power unit will be installed and monitored by researchers from the Centre for Energy, the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Ghana Cocoa Board and the country’s Energy Commission.

Provision of sustainable energy using cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving quality of life and thus alleviating poverty in rural communities, as well as helping in the fight against climate change.

Jo Darkwa

Jo Darkwa is a Professor of Energy Storage Technologies, Faculty of Engineering.

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