The University of Botswana Biodiesel Research Unit in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) has commissioned a biodiesel processing machine.
The machine, designed to produce 380 liters of biodiesel per batch from different feedstock, was commissioned by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Mr Mmetla Masire, at Block 251 on February 11, 2020.
The bio diesel production is a joint research project between the University of Botswana, Department of Agricultural Research and the Department of Energy in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, who are the project sponsor.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Mr Masire commended the University of Botswana and Department of Agricultural Research for their technical support in the implementation of the Biodiesel Production Project. “The Project seeks to enhance knowledge and scale up biodiesel production from various indigenous feedstock in Botswana,” he observed.
Therefore, Mr Masire noted that upon completion of the project, government anticipated the accumulation of technical knowledge and experience in the production of biodiesel in Botswana on a commercial basis. In addition, the production of biodiesel is expected to improve energy security and also promote rural development, he said.
That is because, he added, biofuels had become an attractive source of energy since they offered the prospect of domestic energy generation and a reliable, renewable source of fuel. Mr Masire further explained that biofuels had the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to facilitate establishment of new industries, employment prospects and incomes.
Mr Masire noted that given 1.2 billion litres per annum of ground fuels that the country consumes with an average annual growth of 3.5 per cent, biofuels, in particular commercial biodiesel production, would certainly contribute to ensuring that Botswana achieved its commitment of reducing Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 per cent (from 2010 emissions levels) by 2030.
In addition, biofuels will also contribute to Botswana attaining the Vision 2036 target of becoming energy secure, with diversified safe and clean energy sources, and a net energy exporter.
Mr Masire said biodiesel offered an effective alternative to fossil fuels as it delivered similar energy performance and could be used in standard diesel engines without the need for any modification, as was the case in this project.
He thanked the researchers and officers who contributed towards the advancement of the Biofuels Production Project, particularly the successful procurement of the Biodiesel Processing Plant that he commissioned.
Further, Mr Masire expressed the hope that the activities under the project, would encourage private sector participation and unlock commercial production of biodiesel in Botswana. Professor Clever Ketlogetswe who is part of the researchers of the project demonstrated the process including fuelling of a vehicle with biodiesel directly from the processing plant.