Amy Smith: Fuel Ideas for the Future

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We were catching up with life long family friend Amy Smith this past weekend. We reminisced about summers in Maine, where we’d force our parents to watch endless hours of us recreating the TV show Match Game (Is there any question that we were always Brett Somers?)

On the “what’s new front”, we told her we were contemplating a colorful duvet for the bedroom and have been weighing the pros and cons of Meso therapy. What has she been up to? After receiving the MacArthur fellowship “Genius Award” she’s now working with her team to create new fuel solutions in underprivileged Countries like Haiti where thousands die annually from massive flooding associated with the country’s almost total deforestation. (According to this story, until Amy began developing this alternative source of charcoal, Haitians had been forced to use trees as their sole source of cooking fuel.)

“The first method she developed after visiting Haiti was simple: First, the juice is squeezed from the widely grown sugar cane. Next, the remaining fibers, called bagasse, are sealed inside a 55-gallon drum. After the bagasse carbonizes from lack of oxygen, it is combined with a cassava-root porridge to bind it. Voilà: charcoal that can be used to cook, and manufactured as a business enterprise.”

Sugarcane as fuel? Genius. And from Charles Nelson Reilly, no less. Who new?