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Makerere promotes waragi as clean energy

Scientists at Makerere University believe crude waragi distilled in almost every part of the country can serve as a cheaper, sustainable clean cooking energy if home brewers use better production technologies. 

The Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC), housed in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, says waragi can serve well as a bioethanol cooking fuel in place of petroleum. 

CREEC together with the Uganda Industrial Research Institute have carried out studies on the potential of locally produced clean cooking fuel. 

Some rural places in Uganda are known for producing raw alcohol or waragi from sugarcane molasses, cassava and banana.

A local brewer fills a customer's jerrycan with freshly-made waragi. Photo: Aljazeera health

Claire Turyahebwa, a bioenergy officer at CREEC, said in an interview that clean ethanol-burning stoves are healthier than traditional charcoal stoves or the traditional three stone fire places.

She said one of the missing links has been the absence of an effective stove, which could be used to promote bioethanol.

Turyahebwa however, said a new effective cooking stove of Moto Sawa imported from Kenya is being promoted alongside the bioethanol. It can boil two litres of water in just nine minutes from the ethanol blue flame.

Sugar factories around the country have already taken interest in producing bioethanol from sugarcane waste like molasses. Kakira Sugar Works in November last year commissioned a Shs 130 billion distillery that processes and turns molasses, a residue from the sugar milling, into ethanol.

The distillery has effectively cut off supply of molasses to local waragi distillers at Wandago and Magamaga in Jinja. 

The price of ethanol produced from Kakira goes for Shs 4,500 per litre. Turyahebwa said the cost of ethanol could go down if locals were taught how to produce it.  

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