Determining Zambia’s potential for bioethanol production as a motor vehicle fuel to meet climate objectives by 2040.

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Mwanakaba, Cosmas S.
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The University of Zambia
Zambia’s transport sector is driven by imported and costly fossil fuels. Apart from the cost element, fossil fuels are finite. The source is depleting as it is being extracted continuously. Fossil fuels are also pollutants to environment. They contribute 70% of global carbon monoxide (CO) and 19% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. These levels of emissions contribute to the global greenhouse gasses challenge. The greenhouse gasses are causing unpredictable weather patterns which have affected the agro business and general economic planning. This research looked at bioethanol as an alternative to gasoline in trying to mitigate the challenges highlighted in depending on fossil fuels for the transport sector. The research investigated three locally produced feedstocks namely sweet potato, cassava and sugarcane. The raw data for these crops was gathered at national level. These feedstocks were quantified and converted to bioethanol using appropriate mathematical ratios. The period of assessment ranged from 2007 to 2017 and then forecast to 2040 which is seemingly a global benchmark to migrate from use of fossil fuels to alternative fuel sources preferably biofuels. As at 2018, Zambia was consuming 1.3 million liters of gasoline per day. Historical data showed gradual increases year by year from 2007 to 2017. Interestingly, when the total yields of sugarcane at Zambia Sugar (Nakambala), Kafue Sugar and Kasama Sugar as well as those of the national yields of sweet potato and cassava were converted to bioethanol, the results showed that quantities were moving in tandem up to 2023 with those of gasoline consumed and the curve separated thereafter due to the influence of the trend. The two tables compiled thus the total national gasoline consumption in 2007 was 165,040,279 liters while the converted bioethanol potential from all the feedstocks in the same year was 215,046,582. As at 2017, the national gasoline consumption was 461,427,680 liters while the converted bioethanol potential stood at 561, 419, 763.7 liters without considering the food requirements of the country. The other scenario of the research considered the food requirements of the country and the results as at 2007 for bioethanol potential was 45,173,085 and by 2017 the bioethanol potential was 113, 485,818. This research established that only quantities equivalent to the current yields of sugarcane, cassava and sweet potato (561,419,763.7 liters of bioethanol for 2017 potential) would suffice when converted to bioethanol to replace gasoline as a motor vehicle fuel. The research also established that after forecasting both bioethanol curves trailed lower than that of national gasoline consumption due to irregular increases on the bioethanol results with scenario number two curve moving at the same pace up to 2023 in magnitude and lost momentum thereafter to that of gasoline while scenario number one curve lied almost at bottom of the figure. The levelised cost of energy of all the feedstocks was calculated with molasses being most competitive at $ 0.039/liter followed by cassava at $ 0.062/liter, sugarcane at $ 0.068/liter and sweet potato at $ 0.304/liter
Thesis of Master of Engineering in Renewable Energy