Ethanol Company Limited (EthCo) uses molasses, a downstream product from sugar production. Illovo is currently the main supplier of molasses to EthCo through their Dwangwa Sugar mill. The mill gets its cane from its own farms and smallholder cane out growers.
EthCo has a batch type fermentation system which until 2007 used an azeotropic form of distillation for Fuel Ethanol production. The plant was revamped between 2008 and 2009 to a multi-effect extractive distillation unit for Extra Neutral Alcohol production. A modern and environmentally friendly molecular sieve unit was installed for Fuel Ethanol production. Malawi’s total supply of potable alcohol and the total required by the beverage and pharmaceutical industries comes from this company. Rectified alcohol for industrial applications is also produced. The Company’s products meet the requirements of Malawi Standards and the Extra Neutral Alcohol produced meets several international quality specifications.
Steam Energy is supplied largely by Dwangwa Sugar Corporation using their bagasse fired boilers. The steam is used principally for distillation and other sanitary requirements in the plant.
Effluent resulting from distillation is evaporated in open pan-ponds. In concentrated or dry form, the effluent is also used by local farmers as fertiliser in their gardens, cutting drastically the poor farmers’ costs of artificial fertiliser. The Company is in the process of assessing the viability of a liquid fertilizer project as a way of managing its effluent