Sasol, CEF jointly study feasibility of biodiesel production


Johannesburg, South AfricaSasol Ltd. and the Central Energy Fund (CEF) are considering building a 100,000 metric-ton-per-year soybean-based biodiesel plant in partnership with an empowerment consortium group. Over 500,000 metric tons of soybean feed to the proposed biodiesel plant will yield the projected 100,000 metric tons of biodiesel.

The two parties have a memorandum of understanding to conduct a feasibility study, which will also consider production facility locations. It should be completed by yearend 2006.

A pre-feasibility study conducted over the last few years by Sasol in close cooperation with the CEF indicated potential for commercial-scale production from this source if supported by appropriate fiscal incentives. This environmental initiative is in line with Sasol's value of continuous improvement.

“Sasol recognizes the importance of renewable energy as part of our sustainability and we support government’s commitment to diversify the energy mix in South Africa. International experience has shown that many socio-economic benefits accrue from biofuel production, including job creation, foreign exchange savings, and strengthening of the rural agricultural economy,” says Sasol Nitro managing director Bernard Klingenberg.

“We are confident that a large-scale, commercial biodiesel facility will create an excellent opportunity for meaningful incorporation of emerging farmers into the supply chain. It will also give impetus to government's white paper on the‘Promotion of Renewable Energy,’” says Manny Singh, general manager at the Energy Development Corp., a division of the CEF.

Vegetable oil in a catalytic reaction with methanol yields biodiesel—a renewable diesel blending component. Annual global production is about 3-million metric tons, with Western Europe being the leading market. Significant production also occurs in the U.S. and Asia. Biodiesel can be blended readily with petroleum-based diesel without any vehicle modification. Biodiesel contains little sulphur and is clean-burning,. It is an environmentally benign fuel that does not contribute to global climate change and reduces most tailpipe emissions, such as carbon monoxide, particulates, and aromatic compounds.

Richard Phelps , senior editor, Control Engineering

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