New biofuels company brings USA technology to SA

 A new biofuels technology company, Stellenbosch Biomass Technologies (SBMT) was launched on Friday 2 July in Sandton.


SBMT has the ability and expertise to lead Southern Africa towards a sustainable energy future. The South African based SBMT holds the rights to commercialise and adapt the latest conversion technology developed by USA-based Mascoma Technologies company. Stellenbosch University is the SBMT research partner for technology improvement.

Once the necessary investment is secured, the company hopes to set up their first demonstration scale plant within the next two years, to demonstrate the full-scale commercial viability of the venture.

SBMT provides low-cost, high-efficiency conversion technology that can ensure substantial savings in capital and operational expenses in the production of cellulosic ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol is a forerunner in the production of second generation biofuels from non-food lignocellulosic plant material sources, including wood and agricultural residue such as sugarcane bagasse.

“By producing fuel using this technology, we can help to reduce green house gas emissions and move Southern Africa towards a greener economy,” SBMT co-founder and director Prof Emile van Zyl believes. “Africa needs sustainable and environmentally safe options that do not threaten our food production or natural vegetation.”

Through research done at Stellenbosch University in the past few years, SBMT founding members have contributed their share of expertise in developing the current Mascoma Technology. “Therefore it is apt that this technology is now also made available locally through SBMT,” says Prof Van Zyl.

According to the professor, the company not only hopes to produce ethanol commercially on a full-scale, but also hopes to foster skills development, the building of human resource capacity and community involvement through the biofuels industry.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W:

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