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Growing demand for bio-diesel spurs business idea

  • By Michelle Mung'ata
  • December 6, 2017
  • 0 Comment

Globally, the use of bio-diesel as an alternative to petrol/diesel has seen increased interest due to environmental benefits associated with its combustion. The high cost of vegetable oils, which could be up to 75% of the total biodiesel manufacturing cost, has led to the production costs of biodiesel becoming approximately 1.5 times higher than that for diesel.

Use of waste cooking oil (WCO) and waste vegetable fats (WVF) could greatly reduce the biodiesel cost as these are considerably cheaper than virgin oils. It would also reduce waste treatment costs associated with WCO/ WVF disposal in addition to alleviate health problems associated with its use.

Biodiesel is produced from vegetable oil or animal fat. These resources can be regrown and considered infinite in comparison to crude oil that is limited. Bryan Lukano, founder of Zijani, got the idea to recycle waste cooking oil while doing a class assignment at the university. After carrying out further research, he decided to pursue the idea after graduating. Formerly known as Biogen Diesel Kenya Limited, Zijani was founded in 2014 to commercialize biodiesel production and refining, with a focus on fuel quality and environmental sustainability.

In November 2014, Zijani opened Kenya’s first biodiesel research and development refinery in Nairobi, which was capable of producing up to 13,000 litres per year. They are set to produce 48,000 litres of biodiesel per year from May 2017.

In 2016, they completed their specialist biodiesel plant in Nairobi, capable of producing 50,000 litres of biodiesel per year. It is Kenya’s first purpose-built plant dedicated to producing biodiesel from used cooking oil.  This has allowed Zijani to step closer to achieving 100% resource recovery by producing biodiesel that saves over 95% Green House Gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.

Zijani tries its best to work directly with regional WCO producers to develop the finest virgin feedstock oils for use in their processors. They have partnered with Java coffee house who provide them with waste vegetable oil.

The used cooking oil waste is collected by their local depots and transferred in bulk to the recycling plant. After production the biodiesel can be blended for use in vehicles. The biodiesel can also be used by customers to fuel their generators and compliment their energy needs. The Human Needs Project, in Kibera, uses the bio-diesel to run their generators in their community centre.

Biodiesel has numerous benefits to its use. It is economical, in that its production is easy and less costly. When using biodiesel instead of petrol diesel, the demand for crude oil products is reduced and as a result their prices decrease. It is more environment friendly than other energy alternatives. While using biodiesel the exhaust emission, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide is significantly less than when running diesel engines. It is also better for the engine’s durability. The higher lubricity enables the engine to run smoothly and reduces its physical deterioration.

With the growth of use of biodiesel, there is a growing need for the main biodiesel resources which are the seeds like canola, corn, soy and others. The growing demand for biodiesel resources enables farmers in particular to have another market to sell to.

Biodiesel helps reduce the dependence on petrol-diesel and fuel companies and the infinite resource (crude oil).

Zijani is mitigating climate change by producing an alternative source of fuel that has low carbon outputs. By doing so they are creating awareness about fossil fuels and climate change. They are reducing waste by repurposing and processing waste vegetable oil.

The company has received business advisory services and linkages to financing and investment opportunities from the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC).

“We hope to be the premier processors of alternative and renewable fuel, specifically bio diesel, leading to a cleaner and greener future,” says Bryan Lukano, founder of Zijani.

By Michelle Mung’ata