By Mc Donald Chapalapata, contributor
Ethanol distiller, Ethanol Company Limited (EthCo), has embarked on a K5.2 billion project to manage liquid waste from its manufacturing process, which will see the company producing fertiliser and electricity from the process.
EthCo Chief Executive Officer Lusubilo Chakaniza said in an interview Monday that the ethanol manufacturing process produces a liquid waste (effluent) called vinasse at a rate of 12 litres for every litre of ethanol produced; meaning, at full capacity, 218 million litres of effluent would be produced in a year.
“To mitigate against the risk of environmental degradation, EthCo is implementing an innovative effluent treatment solution that will result in Zero Liquid Discharge from the plant at a cost of K5.2 billion. The process will involve bio-digestion, evaporation, condensate treatment and drying and the process would take less than a week,” Chakaniza said.
She said from this process, there will be biogas produced which will be used to generate steam to drive a turbine and produce about 2 megawatts of electricity thereby making the factory self-sufficient on electricity.
“The dried material will be processed in a granulation plant to produce granulated potassium rich organic fertiliser that will be bagged in 50 Kg bags for selling at an affordable cost,” she said.
She said the project is more than a year late due to Covid pandemic related delays but is expected to be commissioned by December 2022.
EthCo, a subsidiary of conglomerate Press Corporation plc, is Malawi’s sole producer of potable (extra-neutral spirit) alcohol that is used by the beverage and pharmaceutical industries and also produces anhydrous alcohol (fuel ethanol) and rectified alcohol for industrial applications.