I first tried burning hulls by simply throwing them in wood stove. It never flamed well. Next, on side of strongly burning woods. The shells next to strong flame burned but never continued to reduce the rest to ashes. I stopped there. I thought it was not possible. Fuel is not the only possible use of cocoa shell anyway.
I gave it a second thought when I saw a video demonstration of rice hull stove. A small fan helps the burning process. I remember seeing a similar setup when I was in Benguet. A strong blower fan facing against a file of large firewood was keeping the flame strong.
The same concept might actually worked for burning cocoa shells. It might work better if I pack it closely in a cylinder, like a charcoal briquette and like a cigarette.
For a really quick and easy work trial. I gathered an empty sardine can. Tightly packed some shells into it. I provided a hole by placing a cardboard tube in the middle.
Time for testing. I placed one end against candle flame to start the ember. Removed it when 50% of surface was red hot. Then placed an electric fan in front. Ember got stronger and almost covered the whole surface after few seconds. I also noticed the ember getting weaker as it goes away from breeze and completely died out few minutes after turning off the fan.
Plenty of white smoke. Thankfully it is not black. I heard from someone that coffee hulls cannot be used as fuel to power electric generators because of its black smoke. It harms the environment I think. The ozone layer maybe. On the other hand, I need sort of mechanism to vent it outside. Else, my house will be like floating in clouds.
I will continue experimenting on this whenever have time.
While I am busy trying to remove every last bit of shells from winnowed nibs, others are doing their best to bring it back to cacao and other food items. Why not? Shells, according to literature is 12 percent of cocoa beans. Putting it to good use means more income. In my own experience, the average nib recovery is about 20%.
So I am loosing more that what the literature said.
I tried making cocoa shell tea but the result was awful. I stopped the experimentation after an acquaintance told me about the possibility of mycotoxin content which resides mostly on shells. As of now, its best use is organic fertilizer.
Nibs, the edible bean part, is turned into delicious chocolate. On the other hand, shells taste bad and should not be included. The maximum allowable amount is 1%. The lower, the better. The very reason why I am removing them as much as I could.
Ground shells as chocolate and related product extender.
While we were on product bazaar. A marketing agent told us about a local chocolate company adding powdered shells to their product. He was disappointment and discontinued carrying their brand.
A friend, who owns a vegetarian food store, rejected a local brand. The reason? Inclusion of cocoa shells. Her sense of taste was sensitive enough to detect. Shells tend to float when prepared as hot drink, she added.
The did is obviously cheating. Then, genius people thought of brilliant workaround.
While picking up our cocoa beans yesterday. The organization president told me about Callebaut legalizing the use of powdered shells as cocoa extender. There are also claims and researches on antioxidant property and rich in fiber claims. I saw two articles on web proving what he told me. I opted not reveal source due to their very strict copyright restriction.