Budding entrepreneur Tawanda Chitiyo has created his company Tawanda Energy Ltd, to build a biorefinery in Zimbabwe, which will produce gas, electricity and diesel from human waste, at a cost of $10 million.
A biorefinery is a waste to energy plant, similar to an oil refinery. The product will be made of sewage sludge, which are renewable. Working in partnership with the Harare Institute of Technology’s Climate Change Research Centre and Astra Innovations, a German technological firm, Chitiyo has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Mutare, Zimbabwe to convert thousands of kilogrammes of human excreta at the Sakubva and Yeovil waste treatment plant into something useful. According to Chitiyo. The company’s “vision and mission is to be [the] driving force for social, environmental, and economic benefits by producing gaseous, and liquid climate-neutral energy carriers. To do this, the company plans to set up a smart city project in the city of Mutare that is adapted to their geographical, cultural, and economic characteristics. 48 tonnes if sewage sludge will go through a process of advanced thermal distillation into 9,1 million litres per year of diesel, 803 tonnes of natural gas per year, A combined total of 3 megawatts of electricity, and 2 409 tonnes of carbon char is to be used as a substitute for firewood, charcoal and coal.
Tawanda Energy Ltd specializes in “energy, biofuels, petrochemicals, and…community scale biorefineries.” The company has already received endorsements and regulatory approval from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, electricity supplier ZETDC as well as from Rodan Engineering Company, a German engineering firm who are to supply the equipment. However, they are still looking for seed capital.
Chitiyo argues that this biorefinery project will effectively respond to Zimbabwe’s present environmental and climate change challenges as their project is “sustainable and does not pollute water, land or air. We will not use any chemicals or any other raw material except sewage sludge. So, our final diesel is biodegradable and sulphur-free. We estimate that the biogas part of the project will avoid the equivalent of 10 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.”
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