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Mutare, the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe, may soon see a new waste to energy plant. 30-year old entrepreneur Tawanda Chitiyo has put together a project plan to build a 'bio-refinery' producing gas, electricity and diesel from human waste.

Waste to energyWorking in partnership with the Harare Institute of Technology's Climate Change Research Centre and Astra Innovations, a German technological firm, Chitiyo has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Mutare to convert thousands of kilogrammes of human excreta at the Sakubva and Yeovil waste treatment plant. The project is estimated to have a cost of $10 million.

The project has 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 will supply the equipment. The project will convert 48 tonnes of sewage sludge through a process of advanced thermal distillation into various fuels.

According to Chitiyo, output will amount to 9.1 million litres per year of diesel (1% of the country’s market share), providing potential savings of S$2 million per annum as a result of cheaper diesel supplies. The project will also create 803 tonnes of natural gas per year, (2.7% of the local gas market share), introduced as substitute for liquefied petroleum gas. The potential annual savings from gas are estimated at $500 000.

In addition, a combined total of 3MW of electricity will be generated, as will 2 409 tonnes of carbon char to be used as a substitute for firewood, charcoal and coal.

“Our 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. We have contracted experts to determine the full emissions reduction potential of the entire project,” Chitiyo told local media.

The project has not yet received funding. Chitiyo has approached the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to facilitate the granting of a sovereign guarantee from the Zimbabwean government, which would assist in securing funding without collateral.

Image credit: Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

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