Thursday, January 4, 2007

Ethanol-driven vehicle under test in Malawi

conducting road tests on an ethanol-propelled vehicle.
Supporters of the project argue that a switch to ethanol fuel would not only benefit the environment but also increase employment in the country's sugarcane industry and save on foreign exchange spent on fuel imports.
According to Freeman Kalirani, a lead researcher on the project • based at Lilongwe Technical College and conducted jointly with the department of science and technology • a modified Mitsubishi Pajero will be tested over a 350 kilometre route from Lilongwe to Mzuzu.
The five-year, US$1 million project, backed by the Malawi government, is investigating the practicability of flex-fuel vehicles that use either 100 per cent locally manufactured ethanol, or a combination of ethanol and petrol.
Until February 2006, all cars in Malawi used leaded petrol blended with 20 per cent ethanol. Since then, the country has switched to unleaded petrol blended with 10 per cent ethanol. Proponents of ethanol use argue that continued over-dependence on fossil fuels has economic, social, climate and biodiversity impacts for humans and the entire ecosystem.Kendron Chisale, Malawi's deputy director of science and technology, said a switch to ethanol would allow Malawi to comply with procedures aimed at emission reduction, as agreed by parties at the 2006 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi in November. "This will eventually mitigate climate change related disasters," he says.
Charles Mtonga, an economic analyst, told SciDev.Net that one advantage of using ethanol as a renewable energy source is that it can increase employment in the sugarcane industry. "It can also save on foreign exchange lost through importation of petroleum products," he said.
But Mtonga cautioned against over-enthusiasm, calling for continued research on how vehicles previously propelled by petrol can best be modified to use ethanol.
He also warned that huge investments in production and installation of additional pumps would be required to make ethanol fuel available throughout the country.Malawi produces ethanol from sugar molasses in bulk amounts at Dwangwa, in the central region lakeshore district of Nkhota-kota.
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2 comments:

HastingsZidana said...

Ethanol driven vehicle tests successful

BY PATRICK MSOWOYA
06:05:06 - 11 January 2007

PRIMARY tests for an ethanol-propelled vehicle, a modified
Mitsubishi Pajero, have been very successful, a lead researcher on the project Freeman Kalilani has said.

He said in an interview Wednesday the test was conducted on December 27 last year when the ethanol driven Pajero covered a distance of about 350 kilometers from Lilongwe to Mzuzu while the second test took the Pajero from Lilongwe to Chikwawa on 2nd January 2007.

“I am happy to tell you that the vehicle performed far beyond our expectations. The tests have been very successful in that the vehicle managed to cover the set distances without any problems at all,” said Kalilani.

The five-year US$1 million (K140 million) project is jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and the Ethanol Company of Malawi.

It is aimed at investigating the use of locally manufactured ethanol in the flex fuel vehicles that use a combination of ethanol and petrol or those that use pure ethanol.

Deputy Director of the Department of Science and Technology Kendron Chisale told reporters recently in Lilongwe that the use of ethanol would mitigate climate change related disasters in accordance to the agreement made by parties at the 2006 United
Nations Climate Change Conference in Nairobi.

Apart from its advantages on the environment, the ethanol project is largely expected to boost employment in the sugar industry.

Malawi is also poised to cut on foreign exchange spending, which currently goes down the drain in the importation of fossil fuels like petrol and diesel.

Malawi currently produces big volumes of ethanol from sugar molasses produced at Dwangwa Sugar Corporation in Nkhotakota district, but heavily relies on the imported fossil fuels, which sometimes have negative impacts on the climate and the entire ecosystem.

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