Details of Kenya’s plan to fuel cars with sugar cane extracts
A quarter of a century has passed since Kenya embarked on one of the most ambitious energy projects in its history – the production and use of a substance called gasohol that can power vehicles.
The process of creating ethanol involves growing sugar cane, extracting molasses, and using it to make a high-energy fuel spirit called ethanol.
Ethanol is then mixed with gasoline to produce gasohol which is then used to fuel gasoline cars. For several years Kenya has been experimenting with a local energy product that has replaced a small percentage of its oil imports.
According to the Kenya Motor Industry Association, the increase in the use of biodiesel will come if the government mandates the use of this type of energy for environmental reasons.
Sugar cane molasses photographed at a processing plant.
The big project proved to the public that cars can run perfectly on certain hybrid fuels. However, the project stalled when the world price of molasses soared and the cost of crude oil fell and held steady.
The process of turning sugar into molasses and then into ethanol also derailed the project due to energy demand.
Unless an ethanol plant is built in the middle of a sugarcane plantation and uses waste sugarcane (bagasse) as fuel, it consumes as much fuel oil as it produces, which in turn consumes it. makes it ineffective.
Kenya’s largest molasses-ethanol plant has actually been rated “energy negative” by some experts, meaning it uses more energy to produce ethanol.
However, the resulting meteoric rise in the price of crude, combined with greatly increased concern about global warming, has led to a resurgence of biofuels.
Sugar cane transported on a tractor.
The production of ethanol for fuel in Kenya dates back to 1977 with the construction of the Kenya Chemical and Food Corp (KCFC) which aimed to produce ethanol for blending, but this did not start until 1983.
The blend was a substitute for premium gasoline (93 octanes) with a volume composition of 65 percent premium gasoline, 10 percent alcohol and 25 percent regular or regular gasoline.
This type of energy is expected to play an increasingly important role in fueling road transport, now and for the foreseeable future.
In October 2020, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) certified two companies to convert vans and sightseeing buses to hybrid vehicles that will use electric motors.
“The standard for the use of liquefied petroleum (LPG) and compressed natural gases as fuels for internal combustion engines is also now in force and investors are free to venture into this line of business,” it reads. in an excerpt published by Kebs at the time. .
This has led motorists to embrace the new technology to help save on fuel costs. The conversion involves upgrading the engine to equip it with tools that help switch between gasoline and LPG gas. The driver can switch between the two modes at the push of a button.
Petroleum is Kenya’s main source of commercial energy and has, over the years, accounted for around 80 percent of the country’s commercial energy needs.
The Kenyan government views the energy sector as a key catalyst for achieving Vision 2030, a development plan that aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized middle-income country providing high-quality life to all of its citizens. by 2030.
File image of a gas station