DEMONSTRATION OF ORGANIC WASTE FERMENTATION TO ETHANOL
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT:
Organic waste presents a major challenge, especially in urban settings with high population and intensive industrial activity. Most organic wastes have a high moisture content, which can lead to ground water pollution and GHG (methane) emissions when the material degrades in the anaerobic environment of landfill. Two key sources of organic waste are targeted in this work, viz. paper sludge waste and food waste. Paper sludge, which emanates from pulp and paper mills cannot be dewatered to less than 70% (w/w). However, this waste is rich in cellulose and easily degradable into sugars for ethanol fermentation. The technology is not yet commercialised due to technical difficulties associated with sludge processing. We have developed technology over the past 10 years where these challenges were addressed up to 100 L scale, which we now aim to demonstrate on-site under real industrial conditions. Copious amounts of food waste ends op landfill with an estimated 30% of all food produce that goes to waste. This resource can have a moisture content in excess of 80% (w/w). Since SA legislation prohibits landfilling of material with moisture in excess of 40%, our technology offers an alternative to paper mills and waste processors where the waste can be diverted from landfill while producing ethanol as a high value commodity chemical. Rough estimates showed that up to 230 million litres of ethanol can be produced from all paper sludge and food waste at an IRR of ca. 25%.
South Africa, Southern Africa
INVESTMENT PURPOSE AND ALLOCATION
Funding of operational costs for a two-year period
Existing partners & commitments
The DSI (funded construction). The following entities expressed an interest in various stages of the technology: Interwaste (waste processing company), Sappi (largest paper producer in SA), Mondi (paper mill), PAMSA (paper manufacturers association), Sasol (interest in green ethanol, distillation).
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