7 January 2013

Ethiopia: Messobo Goes Green With Bio-Fuel Commitment

Previously Discarded Sesame Husks Used In Energy Production

Messobo Cement Factory has awarded an Austrian company, ATEC Industries, a 7.6 million dollar contract to set up a plant that will enable it to use sesame husks, along with coal, to produce energy.

Coal has been imported by the government, since last year, and distributed to cement factories, according to their demand. This is after the government obliged all factories to replace heavy oil furnaces, in 2010, with the aim of reducing production costs, and hence, the cost of the final product.

The cement factory currently consumes around 264,000tn of coal, on a yearly basis, in order to produce 2.1 million tonnes of cement.

Messebo's plan is to replace 40pc of its coal consumption with biomass energy, reducing its yearly coal consumption to 158,400tn. The factory will thus need around 250,000tn of sesame husks, on a yearly basis, according to the factory's feasibility study.

The caloric content of the husks is lower than coal, which creates the necessity to use a larger volume. But these are not available all year round, because of the seasonality of the crop, according to an energy expert that Fortune talked to.

The company plans to collect the husk from sesame farms, in Humera, 650Km from the cement factory, located in Mekelle, 780Km north of Addis Abeba. Sesame produced from Humera contributes 63pc of the national production. In total, the country produces 260,534tn of sesame, on an annual basis.

Farmers burn the husks as they consider it a waste product, Hagos Berhe, project manager of the factory said. The factory collected around 300tn last year, without paying any fees.

"But we assume that they will start to demand payment after sometime," Hagos said.

The husks will be compressed by a pressing machine that will be erected near the farms, in order to make it suitable for transportation. The compressed husks will then be separated and shredded into fine pieces at the factory, before being placed into the sesame firing plant to produce energy.

ATEC Industries, which was selected out of four international bidders, will design and erect the plant.

ATEC will be in charge of the engineering work, and subcontract the civil works, and fabrication of certain parts, to Mesfin Industrial Engineering.

The erection of the plant will be finalised in the next fiscal year, according to their contract.

Messebo introduced a new cement product two weeks ago, called Portland Limestone Cement (PLC). With higher levels of limestone, it requires lower heat levels to burn, thereby saving on the cost of coal.

Biomass energy contributes around 19pc of the total energy consumed at the national level. Its contribution to the industry is minimal, according to a study commission by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Ibternationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in 2010. Currently, however, other cement factories, like Derba MIDROC and, the state-owned, Mugar Cement Enterprise, are also studying the bio-gas energy sources in their localities, according to sources at the Ministry of Industry (MoI).

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