Lumbrick: "Transforming Junk to Joules"; Food Security for Refugees in Africa

The issue of refugees globally is an important one and one that has received increased public attention most recently.  The focus on appropriate fuel sources for cooking is very significant with wide reaching social and environmental implications. The use of agricultural waste products has enormous potential as a fuel source and they would seem to be locally sustainable. 


The Lumbrick brick prototype is based upon Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) D-Lab's research on bio-briquettes, which has itself been tested in the field.

“We customized MIT's shape, composition, and procedure to fit the refugee context according to our interviews and collaborations with (1) a refugee who has lived 18 years of her life in Kenyan refugee camps, (2) a young Kenyan entrepreneur who sells bio-briquettes to his community, and (3) various NGO's who have been providing long-term support to refugee camps in Kenya, including the Jesuit Refugee Services, GIZ Kenya, Lutheran World Federation."

Lumbrick was founded on the belief that sustainable and culturally-sensitive business practices can transform the development of household and commercial energy technologies for people living in extreme energy poverty. In 2017, they represented McGill University at the Hult Prize with the challenge of building a “sustainable, scalable social enterprise to restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees”. During the summer of 2017, Lumbrick conducted a pilot in Cameroon to test our green charcoal product. Since then, they have focused on developing a technology powered by renewable energy which will optimize production of green charcoal across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

“In general, when we say ‘for refugees and with refugees,’ we would like to emphasize our position that we put our customer, the refugee, at the centre of the product and business development. We still have a long way to go, so that’s why we will travel to a refugee camp this summer to better tailor our product.”
— Lumbrick Team

Mission: Bring innovative energy technology to refugees and developing communities in a socially-conscious approach that optimizes adoption.

Product: A solar pelletization machine that transforms agricultural waste into cooking fuel briquettes. This machine enables farmers to create briquettes for their community, providing a sustainable alternative to firewood.

Lumbrick Team

To learn more about Lumbrick, visit their website at and on Facebook at

This project proposal was awarded Spring 2017.