from PATRICK CHITONGO in Triangle
TRIANGLE – THE production of carbon dioxide, a vital ingredient in the brewing of soft drinks, is envisaged to save Zimbabwe vast amounts in foreign currency used to import the product.
It is also anticipated to revive the beverage sector that currently is operating below capacity as a result of scarce foreign currency and shortages of the ingredient.
Zimbabwe’s sole sugar producer, Triangle Limited, is finalising plans to construct a plant to extract the product at its mill southeast of the country.
Production is projected to start in the next six months.
Carbon dioxide will be extracted from steam gas emitted during the processing of ethanol from molasses, a byproduct from raw sugar processing.
Tendai Masawi, Triangle director for mill operations, exclusively told CAJ News Africa the plant had already been sourced, paving the way for its assembling.
Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of the ethanol plant at Triangle Mill, he said the production of carbon dioxide would lessen the burden on the importation of the product by soft drink manufacturers.
Triangle produces 40 million litres of ethanol every year but lacks mechanisms to harvest carbon dioxide from the process.
“Carbon dioxide, which is important in the manufacturing of soft drinks, is filtered into the air and going to waste during the processing of ethanol. We have therefore moved a step up to utilise all available by-products of sugarcane to improve economic stability and beneficiation. The project will be up and running within six months if all goes by plan,” Masawi said.
“This will ensure that local beverage manufacturers like Delta (Corporation) will be able to save on foreign currency as they will buy the product locally,” he added.
Shortages of key ingredients such as carbon dioxide and caffeine have resulted in low production of soft drinks and other beverages in Zimbabwe over the past three years as the country battles economic hardships.
Joel Gebuza, chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy, encouraged Triangle Limited to continue exploring local solutions to prevailing economic challenges.
Apart from the planned production of carbon dioxide, Triangle is already making use of some by-products like molasses, which is used to manufacture animal feed, ethanol for blended fuel.
Fibre residue is used to generate electricity in place of coal.
The company generates its own electricity amounting to 60MW using sugarcane fibre residue.
It also feeds 10 MW into the national grid.
“What I have realised is that a lot of things can be done here using by-products from sugarcane, the production of carbon dioxide is an important initiative that this company can do to improve the economy of the country. On behalf of the committee, I appreciate that,” Gabuza said during the Triangle tour.
– CAJ News