MUNICH headquartered company BOC Gases plans to construct a carbon dioxide plant in Chisumbanje at the Green Fuel ethanol plant which will have the capacity to supply the whole of Southern Africa.
Carbon dioxide is a by-product in ethanol production and can be captured for use in many industrial processes.
BOC Gases intends to purify carbon dioxide from Chisumbanje.
The purified carbon dioxide will be supplied to customers in a variety of industries, including food and beverages, where it is used to freeze, chill, preserve and package food and carbonate beverages.
The purified carbon dioxide is also used in the healthcare, oil recovery, metal fabrication, chemicals and wastewater segments.
At the moment, the gas is being released into the air.
Sadc relies on South Africa for its carbon dioxide requirements but if the Chisumbanje BOC plant comes online, there is potential for Zimbabwe to be an exporter of the product within the region.
Companies like Coca-Cola have also reportedly expressed interest in setting up similar plants at Chisumbanje but the Chipinge Rural District Council has not yet completed the physical demarcation of industrial stands.
It was only last week that the local authority was able to produce a development map for residential areas approved by the Physical Planning department.
BOC managing director Mr Edison Padya said yesterday the company -- the country's largest gas firm -- was conducting a feasibility study to determine the quality of the carbon dioxide and how much the plant would cost.
"We are getting the carbon dioxide samples and we will send them to Osborne Lab in the UK for testing," said Mr Padya.
"We also want to establish the cost of the plant. If all things go well, we might have a plant that purifies carbon dioxide."
He said the company would consider a joint venture with Green Fuel or a long-term supply agreement.
Mr David Muwandi, distillery manager for Green Fuel said: "With the current installation Green Fuel has the potential to produce 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per day. However, this avenue has not yet been exploited. BOC have expressed interest in this unexploited resource and are currently carrying out feasibility studies to install a carbon dioxide recovery plant.
"The feasibility study involves sampling and testing the raw carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation stage at the ethanol plant as well as determining feasible capacity and design of CO₂ plant to be installed."
Boc Gases mainly provides packaged gas, chemicals and related products and services. The gases involved are typically delivered in high pressure cylinders and range from technical grades to high purity specialty gases.