Assessing the environmental impact of bone char production by in-situ emission monitoring and life cycle assessment

Sankhya Ramanan, Godfrey Mkongo, Qian Zhang, Haibao Wen, Felix Mtalo, Junjie Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Animal bone char has long been used as an adsorbent for removing fluoride from drinking water. It is particularly popular in developing countries owing to the readily available raw materials, simple manufacturing process, low cost, and ease of use on a household scale. Widespread production of bone char has been implemented, but the resultant impact on the environment has not been fully investigated and the sustainability of this technology is unknown. This paper aims to be the first primary research on the environmental impact of bone char production. A systematic life cycle assessment (LCA) of the bone char production process was undertaken, with primary data gathered from a bone char workshop in Tanzania. Results of in-situ emission monitoring show that the production of 1 kg of bone char directly generates 3.53 ± 0.16 kg of CO 2, 134.57 ± 6.79 g of CO, and 3.85 ± 0.42 g of SO 2. Life cycle impact assessment indicates that the transport stage has a major influence on most environmental impact categories under study, whereas the charring gas emissions are the largest contributor to climate change and terrestrial acidification. Sensitivity analysis suggests that increasing the loading capacity of the vehicle diminishes the negative impact of the transport stage. The environmental cost of producing 1 kg of bone char (0.25 €) outweighs its local market price (0.13 €).

Original languageEnglish
Article number132974
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date4 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Mr Philipo Chacha Chandy (Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Tanzania) for his valuable comments, the Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organisation (TIRDO) and the Ngurdoto Defluoridation Research Station (NDRS) for conducting the charring emissions test, and the Systems Sustainability Research Group at the University of Bath for providing access to the Ecoinvent database. This project was supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering under the Research Fellowship scheme.


  • Adsorption
  • Bone char
  • Fluoride
  • Gas emission
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle inventory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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