July 26, 2022

CUT starts biogas energy production

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Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) through its innovation hub, is currently designing a biogas system for its industrial park and campus energy needs, in line with the solution-based Education 5.0 model.

The ingenuity dovetails well with President Mnangagwa’s call for tertiary institutions to be innovative and come up with solutions to the nation’s challenges.

Recently, the President commissioned the Midlands State University (MSU) state-of-the-art National Pathology Research and Diagnostic Centre (NPRDC) in Gweru, which was built using Government funds, and is a game-changer as far as the training of scientists is concerned, not only for Zimbabwe but also the region at large.

CUT’s scheduled project seeks to produce energy from waste with the biogas system which is expected to produce electricity and methane gas for the school while excess will be supplied to the open market.

The outcome removes the reliance and dependence of the technological institution on the national power grid currently constrained by shortages as a result of the breakdown at Kariba and Hwange power stations.

As industrialisation gathers pace, characterised by a surge in construction activities as well as an industrial revival in key sectors of mining and agriculture, Zimbabwe has started to experience power outages with the country having to import electricity to supplement local production.

In Chinhoyi, a contractor is currently on the ground to set up one of the largest plants in the province, drawing from biodegradable material from the industrial park, mainly cow dung.

Mr Reuben James, who is optimistic to meet the September deadline, said the system will measure 26 cubic metres.

“The system will be able to continuously supply methane gas not only to the park but to the campus as well.  It’s big enough to produce abundant methane gas for the park and the campus as long as the university connects pipes from the digester ducts to the institution,” he said.

The digester is expected to produce 5 000 kilowatt hours of biogas per day.

CUT’s cattle breeding project manager, Mr Lawrence Gweme, said the system will be wholly supported by end products at the cattle farm.

“The project will make use of the large mass of cow dung being produced from the pen-fattening feeding lots. The idea here is to use everything produced at these cattle fattening pens, feed them into the biogas digester and be able to power the whole industrial park using biogas generated here. The surplus gas will be supplied to the open market,” he said.

The university’s acting communications director, Mr Giford Chikuya said the biogas plant was going to be a game changer for the provincial institution of technology.

CUT industrial park which was commissioned by President Mnangagwa last year, consists mainly of a livestock hub, which is the source of the raw biodegradable matter for the digester, a commercial medicinal stock feed, and vitamin block lick press factory

Unlike the widely used liquid petroleum (LP) gas which is perceived to be highly explosive and dangerous, biogas is safe as it does not explode when exposed to naked flames.

CUT has also embarked on lithium battery production while its innovation hub is completely powered by a 24-kilowatt solar-power grid.

It is also working on extracting hydrogen from water for energy purposes.

The hub’s acting director, Professor Wilbert Mtangi said they will be getting a lithium spodumene from Bikita for lithium-ion battery production which will be commercialised apart from use at the institution for energy purposes. – The Herald

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