Small scale ethanol production in remote areas has become possible with the development in South Africa of a robust, easily-maintained modular alcohol distillation unit. The Taurus 480 is a compact, self-contained, continuous-column alcohol distillation unit specifically designed to be operated at the source of raw material. This reduces transport costs dramatically.
It can be used as a stand-alone distiller capable of processing 2,000 litres of fermented feed per hour into industrial or potable alcohol, or as a satellite plant in a large-scale or communal bio-fuel project. It is also suited to the production of ethanol gel, which is gaining popularity as a safe alternative to paraffin as low-cost fuel.
Suitable raw materials for the Taurus 480 include sugar cane, sugar beet, molasses, maize, sweet sorghum, cassava, fruit and distilling wine.
The unit was developed by South African Buks Venter and is being manufactured by a leading food industry processing machinery supplier.
Venter says the Taurus was developed to cope with rural realities. It is built inside a shipping container which makes transport to remote locations easier. Once on site, it can be erected immediately and securely without a site construction team. The unit is primarily constructed of stainless steel and is manually controlled (but can be converted to full automation if required). Being "housed" also makes it theft- and tamper-proof.
The unit consists of an eight-metre high stripping and rectification column with tubular heat exhangers to distil fermented feed. Also inside the 12metre by 2.3metre by 2.3metre container is a service staircase and exterior fire escape ladder, an extractor fan, flame-proof lighting, centrifugal pumps, electronic temperature registration and a cleaning tank.
Annual production (11 months in contiuous operation) from an 8% alcohol volume feed is 1.4m litres of 90% alcohol by volume or 1.26m absolute alcohol. Raw material equivalents are 3,640t of maize, 28,000t of sugar cane, 28,000t of declassified fruit or 15.7m litres of distilling wine.
The distillation equipment costs about $200,000. The price of a complete turnkey operation is about $900,000, depending on the raw material to be processed.
Venter: Tel +27-21 872 4301 or +27-72-216 3921; email@example.com