Biofuels

Bioethanol

  • Ethanol is a liquid fuel that can be produced from a variety of sugar and starch containing crops, such as sugar cane and grains. Kenya has produced ethanol from sugarcane since the early 1980s and for a time even blended it with petrol as part of a gasohol program. Ethanol can be blended with petrol in any ratio, or used straight, but requires the use of specially designed vehicles in blends above 10%, referred to as E10.
  • Bio-ethanol has become more relevant alternative fuel in the transport sector not least because of the considerable environmental benefits that can be obtained. Many industrialized and developing countries have initiated ethanol programmes or projects during the last years, the more comprehensive being Brazilian fuel-alcohol programme started in 1975. A similar process was introduced in Kenya in 1983 but discontinued in 1993 due to production problems that led to unsustainable pricing and inadequate policy framework.

Biodiesel

  • Biodiesel is a liquid substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuel made with vegetable oil derived from a wide variety of oil-bearing plants such as castor, coconut, cottonseed, croton, jatropha, rapeseed (canola) and sunflower. No vehicle modifications are required to use biodiesel blends of up to 20% (B20). Straight vegetable oil (SVO) that has not been processed into biodiesel could potentially be used in some applications, such as for stationary engines, transport with specially modified vehicles or for farm equipment. SVO and/or biodiesel could also potentially be used as a replacement for kerosene as the main
  • Unlike bioethanol production, biodiesel production is still very low. Among the few producers is the Help Self Help Centre in Nanyuki, which is a community based organization. Among other activities, they are producing straight vegetable oil (SVO) and biodiesel oil from croton seeds. The Centre produce up to 4500 and 600 litres SVO and biodiesel daily, respectively. The whole amount is consumed locally to power mills and tractors.
  • Another biodiesel producer is Pwani Jatropha Enterprise situated at Lamu/Mpeketoni. They have more than 700 farmers who have planted Jatropha for the purpose of obtaining Jatropha biodiesel. The biodiesel is used to run a generator which in turn produces electricity to the community. The project is supported by the Norwegian Church Aid.
  • The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum have been piloting biodiesel stationary engines as part of its effort to develop biofuel to be used on off-grid generators. Initially the project was targeting use of Jatropha as the feedstock. The project has been facing problems due to inadequate supply of oil mainly due to the failure of Jatropha in marginal areas where majority of the plantings were done by communities.
  • A strategy for introduction of biofuel blends in the market was developed by the Government in 2010. Facilities for ethanol-gasoline blending have been completed in Kisumu to be followed by Eldoret and Nakuru. However, there aren’t sufficient quantities of bio-ethanol feed-stocks.

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