A new biofuels technology company, Stellenbosch Biomass Technologies (SBMT), was launched this month. The company has the ability and expertise to lead Southern Africa towards a sustainable energy future.
The Stellenbosch-based SBMT holds the rights to commercialise and adapt the latest conversion technology developed by USA-based Mascoma Technologies company.
Stellenbosch University is the SBMT research partner for technology improvement.
Once the necessary investment is secured, the company hopes to set up their first demonstration scale plant, to demonstrate the full-scale commercial viability of the venture.
Low-cost high-efficiency conversion
Stellenbosch Biomass Technologies provides low-cost, high-efficiency conversion technology that can ensure substantial savings in capital and operational expenses in the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Cellulosic ethanol is a forerunner in the production of second generation biofuels from non-food lignocellulosic plant material sources, including wood and agricultural residue such as sugarcane bagasse.
‘By producing fuel using this technology, we can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move Southern Africa towards a greener economy,’ Prof Emile Van Zyl believes. ‘Africa needs sustainable and environmentally safe options that do not threaten our food production or natural vegetation.’
Skills and technology transfer
Through research done at Stellenbosch University in the past few years, SBMT founding members have contributed their share of expertise in developing the current Mascoma Technology.
‘It therefore makes sense that this technology is now also made available locally,’ says Prof Van Zyl.
According to Prof Van Zyl, the company hopes to produce ethanol commercially on a full-scale. It also hopes to foster skills development, the building of human resource capacity and community involvement through the biofuels industry.