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A viable strategy to sugar cane lignocellulosic bio-ethanol development in Southern Africa.

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In the current era, oil deficit countries around the world seriously consider shifting dependence from conventional gasoline to renewable bio-ethanol fuel in the transport industry. Arguably, blending l0vol% dry ethanol with 90vol% unleaded gasoline enables ethanol fuel to penetrate the fuel market at relatively lower development costs. Despite creating an important market for the ethanol industry, fuels containing dry ethanol of differential proportions multiply the local risks associated with fuel combustion. Making a sale of one drop of ethanol fuel, for example, is intrinsically tied to the sale of more drops of imported gasoline. Furthermore, an increase (decrease) in conventional fuel prices directly influences a decline (increase) in daily sales of ethanol fuel. Blending bio-ethanol fuel with conventional gasoline in various proportions fails to address the multifaceted fossil fuel crisis in oil deficit countries. Although reducing bio-ethanol production costs can buffer fuel prices to a significant degree when blended in higher ratios, industrial competition for bio-feedstock is a serious limitation for bio-ethanol development in all parts of the globe. Nevertheless, advances in biotechnology may allow the use of a wide range of cheaper ethanol feedstocks (e.g. lignocellulose) leading to an important reduction in ethanol production costs. Temporal and spatial variability of lignocellulosic ethanol potentials in the sugar industry is investigated over southern Africa as a whole. The influence of extremely low (high) production of sugar cane on the potentials development of lignocellulosic ethanol plants is demonstrated in this work. Characterization of bioethanol fuel markets on the basis of blending with gasoline is undertaken at the subcontinental scale. The connectivity between development, consumption per capita, population growth, bio-ethanol energy demand, as well as the critical limits of land stock potentials is examined in this study. On the basis of the special influence that each of the processes indicated above have on bio-ethanol fuel development, an integrated approach toward optimizing the total value of bio-ethanol fuel in the region is formulated. This approach allows the investigation to determine whether critical and beyond critical conditions of land stock lead to a collapse of a human consumption type or whether bio-ethanol fuel development is a totally viable process. Finally, this work ascertains whether sustainable biofuel development is an oxymoron because human development demands a constantly growing fuel consumption per capita, or because of increasing the lower limit, with an infinite upper limit for human development, or as a product of the combined effects of increasing human population with a higher consumption rate per capita of non-growing and non-developing land stock units.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, 2004.


Fuel., Alcohol as fuel., Lignocellulose., Sugar--Manufacture and refining--By-products., Theses--Environmental science.